A federal judge in Nevada has temporarily barred a Nevada prison from refusing to serve Kosher food to an Orthodox prisoner.
The state prison said that next week it wanted to start serving a “common fare” menu to prisoners, including 51-year-old Howard Ackerman, serving a life sentence for kidnapping. There are another 292 prisoners in the jail who also have been receiving kosher food.
Ackerman filed a petition against the order, and U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered the Nevada Department of Corrections to ask the other 292 prisoners who eat Kosher if they want to be covered by her temporary injunction barring the “common fare” menu.
Six Las Vegas area Orthodox rabbis attended the hearing on Friday.
Prison officials said the new menu will save it $1.5 million a year and “will accommodate all diets regardless of religion.” They said that kosher food already has cost more than $350,000 this fiscal year.
“Are you kidding me?” Ackerman’s lawyer, Jacob Hafter told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The menu has sausage on it.”
The lawyer said the petition is “meant to preserve the constitutional rights of all prisoners in Nevada.”
Judge Navarro said that the case raises serious questions, and that a decision could set a legal precedent. The case continues on April 18, when evidence will be presented before a ruling is issued.