Saturday, October 6, 2007

Muslim prisoner sues Missouri jail over Ramadan PBJ

chuck colson muslim jailhouse scamA Muslim prisoner is suing a Missouri jail, claiming administrators fed him food products containing pork. It sounds like he's mistaken- he thought jelly was thickened with an animal product, gelatin, instead of pectin, a vegetable product.

I'll bet he isn't getting a lot of sympathy from the local mosque. Odell M. Edwards is probably as Muslim as Charles Colson is Christian. His non-middle-eastern name makes me suspect a jailhouse conversion. I wonder if this is the same person caught bringing forty gallons of PCP and twelve keys of coke into Missouri in 2006.

Despite the lawsuit, it seems that the jail tries to accomodate Muslims. The linked article says that for years, the jail has catered to those who wish to participate in the Ramadan fast. Administrators consult with a Muslim spiritual advisor, offer approved foods, and arrange for jail personnel to prepare after-hours meals. The special meals — requested by 10 inmates this year — are usually the jail's only deviation in food service due to religion, but the jail compromises with inmates on other religious matters. For instance, Muslims are provided towels to use as prayer mats.

"We try to use the least- restrictive means," the jail director said, noting that some requests can't be granted. "It all goes back to the safety and security of the facility."

The Sheriff says inmates would have a great deal more choice if they didn't run afoul of the law. He's less diplomatic than the director. "If they want to eat what they want to eat, they should stay out of jail."