CAIR-MI settles suit against MDOC over Ramadan meals
A Muslim civil liberties organization has settled its lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections on behalf of inmates allegedly denied adequate nutrition during the annual month-long Ramadan fast.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) filed the suit in 2013 after four Muslim inmates said they received as little as one-third of the recommended daily calories in Ramadan 2011 and 2012. The inmates were serving sentences at four correctional facilities: Saginaw, Newberry, Parnall in Jackson, and Alger, located in Wetmore.
The plaintiffs said they often received meals containing inedible food or less than what was set forth on the Ramadan menu. The morning meal also frequently was served after sunrise, precluding them from consuming the meal in accordance with the strictures of Ramadan observance.
Since the filing of the lawsuit in 2013, MDOC increased the amount of food it provides Muslim inmates participating in the Ramadan fast to satisfy nutritional and caloric guidelines, CAIR officials said.
The terms of the settlement were not immediately available Wednesday. Representatives with CAIR-MI and MDOC were not immediately available to comment.
“We welcome the successful settlement of our lawsuit with the MDOC and hope that this case will send a message to correctional facilities nationwide to respect prisoners’ rights to free exercise of religion and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,” CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri said in a statement. Masri is the former Legal Director of CAIR-MI.
Previously, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker allowed the suit to continue in September by denying a motion by MDOC that said it’s entitled to qualified immunity in the case.
The judge also dismissed part of the plaintiffs' case in a ruling that the attorneys failed to establish a viable equal protection claim.