Nevada judge halts new menu for kosher inmates

(JTA) – A federal judge in Nevada has ordered the state’s Department of Corrections to refrain from serving a new menu to inmates who keep kosher.

In an injunction last Friday, Judge Gloria Navarro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada prevented the department from serving a new "common fare" menu to inmate Howard Ackerman. Navarro also asked nearly 300 other inmates who are receiving a kosher diet if they wished to be included in the injunction, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The new menu is scheduled to begin Feb. 21. Ackerman said in a lawsuit that the meals will not be kosher, which violates his First Amendment right of religious freedom.

Ackerman’s pro bono attorney, Jacob Hafter, who is Orthodox, said the new menu includes sausage, which renders it non-kosher. The menu also will not be under rabbinic supervision.

The new menu is being implemented to save the corrections department about $1.5 million a year, according to reports. 

Ackerman filed a lawsuit in January saying that his transfer to a new prison, where he cannot receive kosher food, was in retaliation for another lawsuit he had filed last June following reports that the Nevada Department of Corrections would be discontinuing kosher meals.

Ackerman, 51, is an Orthodox Jew who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping.

The judge set a hearing date on the case for April 18.
 

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