Montana Prisoner Sues Over Lack of Kosher Food

Published: February 11th 2011
in News » World

Tischler fights for kosher food

Shelly Tischler, an inmate at Montana Women’s Prison, is suing state corrections officials claiming they aren’t willing to provide her with kosher food, which is in violation of her right to religious freedom.


Tischler filed a complaint with the U.S District Court in Billings, Montana explaining that she is Jewish and practices her faith by eating kosher meals. She went on to say that not only do prison officials deny her right to appropriate food; they also discriminate against her by delivering slurs about her faith.


The upcoming law suit names several defendants including the Montana Department of Corrections, the Montana Women’s Prison, Jo Acton (warden), Bob Paul and Sue Orand (deputy wardens), and three others.


Tischler was sentenced in 2005 to 20 years in prison for negligent homicide and criminal endangerment.


During her 6 years in prison thus far, Tischler has spent most of her time in Billings, but was also treated at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. The prisoner was granted the ability to have or order kosher food for observance of Jewish holy days while at the Women’s Prison, but the Hospital would not allow the same privileges.


At one point, the suit claims that the Women’s Prison offered to have food prepared in a “kosher manner”, but Tischler doesn’t believe this to be acceptable.


“A kosher diet conforms to the divine will of God as expressed in the Torah which teaches that the slightest morsel of forbidden food taints not only the body, but the soul itself,” Tischler argues.


Complaints that Tischler has filed about the kosher food issue have been ignored. In fact, Tischler continues to be subjected to slurs from staff and inmates. Prison administrators don’t step in to prevent or discourage the derogatory comments.


Tischler is now seeking a jury trial, punitive damages and an injunction requiring the defendants to provide her and other Jewish inmates with kosher meals, if requested.

Related articles: (Womens prison, Montana, kosher, Jewish, U.S)
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