Las Vegas Sun

August 27, 2015

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Nevada moving to settle lawsuit over kosher prison meals

The state is moving forward to settle a class action lawsuit demanding that kosher meals be provided in Nevada prisons for Jewish inmates.

But some Jewish inmates are objecting to the settlement. Kosher food is now available at all prisons and, an estimated 280 inmates are taking advantage of the meals.

The state Board of Examiners last Tuesday approved a $387,310 contract to use Scroll K/Vaad Hakashrus, a nonprofit group, to provide koshering of kitchens and ongoing rabbinical supervision of kosher food preparation for prisoners.

The Scroll of Denver, Colo., is a consultant to the Colorado Department of Corrections, helping develop a menu and visiting prisons to monitor the program.

More than 45 prisoners, however, have lodged objections to the proposed settlement, including that the kosher diet does not measure up to the main diet served in the prisons.

The complaints say the diet does not meet nutritional standards, and one points out that there is no kosher pizza. They also said there isn’t any assurance the kosher meals would continue.

But Jacob Hafter, the Las Vegas lawyer who brought the suit, is urging the federal court to approve the settlement. He said there isn’t any evidence of discriminatory intent by the state.

Deputy Attorney General Micheline Fairbanks, who handled the case for the state, could not be reached for comment.

The kosher diet prohibits pork and shellfish, and eating meat with dairy is taboo.

A hearing is set for Oct. 11 in federal court in Las Vegas to consider the complaints brought by inmates and whether to approve the proposed settlement.

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