Alaska Department of Law and the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have come to a settlement over the treatment of Muslim inmates during Ramadan.

It seems that changes are in order for Muslim inmates serving their time while incarcerated in Alaska. CAIR filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Department of Corrections citing how Muslim inmates were not allowed to practice their religion.

The lawsuit contends that two inmates were served “cold meals” during the month of Ramadan while other inmates got hot meals. The same inmates complained that some of their meals contained pork, which I thought was funny.

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CAIR claimed the inmates were not getting the necessary amount of daily calories and wanted compensation for the inmates. According to Sarah Gallagher, a public information officer with the Department of Corrections, 45 Muslim inmates participated in Ramadan this year.

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.

“Accommodating Muslim prisoners in prisons around the country has been a perennial problem,” said CAIR trial attorney Carolyn Homer by phone, but the new agreement with the state “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.”

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.

Judge Holland issued an emergency order requiring the state to address the situation, and the state complied. [Anchorage Daily News]

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The attorney for the plaintiffs’ says this settlement makes Alaska a model for how Muslims should be treated while incarcerated.

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