US prison agrees to provide Ramadan meals following lawsuit
A prison in the US state of Virginia has agreed to provide a Muslim inmate with food during non-fasting hours, between sunset and sunrise, in accordance with Ramadan customs.
The decision comes this week following an emergency complaint filed jointly by Muslim Advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union in Virginia on behalf of Dwayne Law, Jr, an inmate at the facility.
On Wednesday the two civil rights groups dismissed their complaint with Baskerville Correctional Centre, which has now agreed to supply Ramadan-compliant meals.
According to a statement by Muslim Advocates, on 7 April, Law was transferred to the prison, where he was initially given meals during non-daylight hours.
However, on 17 April, the facility stopped accommodating his Ramadan mealtime requirements because it had improperly documented his permission to observe Muslim customs.
A corrections officer reportedly said Law was not a real Muslim, although he was not authorized to determine someone else’s religious status.
“This agreement is a bittersweet win for Mr. Law and for religious liberty,” said Muslim Advocates legal fellow Chris Godshall-Bennett in a public statement.
“Allowing Mr. Law to join his fellow Muslims receiving meals during Ramadan hours was an easy lift for Baskerville and the fact that they refused to do so until we intervened is a tragedy.
“Mr. Law is an inspiration and we hope his brave choice to speak out reminds Baskerville and the Virginia Department of Corrections that the nation is watching and they must respect the rights of the people in their care,” Godshall-Bennett added.
Eden Heilman, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia shared a statement reminding the public how common this scenario is across the US.
“What happened at Baskerville is playing out every day in prisons across the nation and we must do everything we can to ensure the religious freedom rights of incarcerated people are respected,” he added.