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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Muslims in Michigan prisons will get halal meals under settlement with state

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Sandy Austin
/
Flickr

Thousands of Muslim inmates in Michigan will have access to meals that comply with their religious beliefs. That’s under a court-approved settlement announced Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

The settlement also requires the state to let prisoners celebrate religious holidays with group meals, and stop punishing them for attending religious services instead of scheduled work duties.

“It was unfair and unconstitutional that individuals were forced to violate their religious beliefs because of policies of the Department of Corrections that had nothing to do with security,” said ALCU of Michigan Legal Director Michael Steinberg.

“Religious rights are so fundamental that even when a person commits a crime and is incarcerated, the government cannot strip the individual of their religious freedom,” he said.

Steinberg says the change will affect thousands of inmates belonging to a number of religions.

The state already allows Jewish inmates to request kosher meals and celebrate Passover.