Opinion| ICYMI| It has been reported that a lawsuit regarding the treatment of Muslim inmates during Ramadan was settled by the Alaska Department of Law and the Council for American-Islamic Relations.
According to ADN.com, “As part of the settlement, the state will pay $102,500 to plaintiffs Anas Dowl and Ernest Jacobsson. The settlement also requires changes in the way the Department of Corrections feeds prisoners during Ramadan and in the way prisoners are permitted to pray.”
CAIR trial attorney Carolyn Homer stated, “Accommodating Muslim prisoners in prisons around the country has been a perennial problem,” going on to say that the new agreement with the state of Alaska “is one of the comprehensive accommodation provisions that CAIR has ever seen, and we intend to hold it up as a model for how Muslim inmates can be accommodated.”
Public information officer for the Department of Corrections, Sarah Gallagher, said in an email that roughly 45 inmates took part in a Ramadan celebration this year.
The department released figures to the Alaska Legislature earlier in the year, which revealed that the state had an average of 4,314 inmates in 2018.
Anchorage Daily News has more on the suit:
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 against Dean Williams, the commissioner of corrections under then-Gov. Bill Walker. The settlement was approved Friday by federal Anchorage District Court Judge H. Russel Holland, and the case has been closed.
Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan, meaning that state-held prisoners who observe the fast cannot participate in regular meal schedules. The lawsuit alleged that the alternative meals offered to Dowl and Jacobsson were dangerously meager and that Muslim inmates were being starved.
An emergency order was issued by Judge Holland which forced the state to look into the matter. The state complied with the judge’s orders.
“CAIR has been pleased that the Alaska Department of Corrections took this case seriously from the very beginning and made immediate changes,” Homer stated.
Gallagher explained that “most of the changes required by the settlement have already been implemented throughout our institutions but will not be fully in place until Ramadan 2020.”
She went on to praise the state’s professionalism during the suit.
According to ADN, “the case had progressed through the federal legal system and was headed toward trial before the settlement was announced this week. The settlement states that Muslim inmates also ‘are permitted to congregate for each of the five daily prayers in their mods,’ ‘are permitted to facilitate Friday religious services,’ and ‘Muslim inmates are permitted to participate in Islamic study groups.’”
CAIR is also planning on providing “religious sensitivity training,” free of charge to Department of Corrections employees.
Gallagher explained that the “training discussed in the settlement is only for personnel that deal directly with Ramadan and religious related requests.”
ADN further reports:
The settlement includes provisions against any subsequent backsliding by the state. The Alaska Legislature typically authorizes the payment of all court settlements statewide in a single budgetary line item. Gallagher said the financial impact of this settlement on the department’s budget “is negligible, if at all.”
I am all for freedom of religion, I just wish Christians and Jews would be treated with the same respect and the left would stop, what I perceive to be their demonization of the Judeo-Christian ethic that made America great…
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