Written by Don Byrd

A federal judge in Idaho has ordered the state’s Department of Corrections to begin providing kosher meals options, as part of a settlement reached in a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by four Jewish inmates. The program must be available to all prisoners by November 1 of this year.

The judge will oversee the implementation of the agreement, which requires a menu option called “Common Fare” that “shall consist of a majority of meals that are pre-packaged or double-sealed frozen meals that are kosher certified.” The Corrections Department also agreed to provide kosher meals for Passover.

The ACLU of Idaho describes the significance of the settlement in a press release:

“These prisoners exemplify the courage and determination that it takes to enforce constitutional rights,” the ACLU of Idaho’s Executive Director Leo Morales said. “The State, including its prison officials, cannot prefer one religion over any other and this case reaffirms the basic constitutional principle of religious liberty. Jewish prisoners will now have access to nutritious meals that meet their religious needs, in the same manner in which other prisoners would have based on their religious needs.”

“For years Jewish inmates in Idaho prisons have had to choose between going hungry or violating the tenets of their faith,” said Craig Durham, of Ferguson Durham PLLC.  “It is because the prisoners in this cased decided to take a stand for equal justice under the law that the Idaho Department of Correction has changed its longstanding practice of denying Kosher meals to the observant.”

A Boise State Public Radio report is here.