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.