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Muslim inmates claim they were forced to eat forbidden food

By The Associated Press

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Two Muslim inmates are suing Santa Barbara County, alleging they were forced to eat food forbidden by their religion while in custody.

Stacy Trotter, 25, and Arvan Washington, 37, claim in their lawsuit that the jail's food policies denied them their First Amendment rights by preventing them from practicing their faith.

Trotter is being held in jail on suspicion of carjacking, and Washington was recently transferred to the state prison at Wasco to serve time on a forgery conviction.

About half a dozen inmates request specially prepared foods at any given time, said Sgt. Phil Willis, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. The jail provides more than 2,500 meals a day to its 1,000 inmates.

"It would be a financial burden to meet every whimsical request," said Willis.

But the department said it would be willing to compromise and find some substitute foods.

The Muslim practice of halal, which prohibits the consumption of pork and requires that animals be slaughtered by a Muslim butcher, are very similar to Jewish kosher rules, said Ihsan Saib, founder and services coordinator of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara in Goleta.


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2nd Circuit panel rules statutes improperly take sides in a religious matter, require state to take official position on religious doctrine. 05.22.02

Arkansas prison told to give inmate kosher food
8th Circuit says state officials should continue to provide kosher meals, food stipend for Kelvin Ray Love until permanent solution can be worked out. 07.09.02

Lawsuit: Prison officials prevented Muslim detainee from practicing faith
Among Egyptian national's claims: Officials at federal prison in Louisiana ridiculed him while he prayed; served meals that contained pork without telling him. 09.10.02

Jewish inmate sues state over refusal to provide kosher meals
Convicted murderer claims Florida prison officials are depriving him of the right to live according to teachings of his faith. 09.22.02

No specially prepared meat for Islamic inmates, 3rd Circuit says
Three-judge panel finds that providing vegetarian meals instead is a reasonable accommodation of prisoners' religious beliefs. 09.12.03

State hasn't justified denying feast-day meats for Muslim inmate
Massachusetts high court says state constitution goes further than U.S. Constitution to protect religious freedom of prisoners. 04.11.06

Muslim inmate ordered to handle pork can sue staff
3rd Circuit: Defendants had 'fair warning' from other courts that they should 'respect, and accommodate when practicable' prisoner's religious concerns. 07.26.06

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