Jewish Journal

Montana inmate sues for kosher food


February 1, 2011 | 12:41 pm

An inmate in Montana Women’s Prison is suing the state corrections office and prison officials for not providing her with kosher food.

Shelley Tischler claimed in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Billings, Mont., that she is Jewish and eats kosher food. She claims that prison officials are denying her kosher food, and that fellow inmates and prison staff are directing slurs about her Jewish faith at her, according to The Billings Gazette.

Tischler is accusing the state corrections office, as well as a prison warden and deputy wardens, of having “knowingly, willfully and maliciously withheld basic religious accommodations.”

Tischler acknowledged in the complaint that at times she has been able to purchase her own kosher food for Jewish holidays. Prison officials also have offered to prepare kosher-style meals, which Tischler has said is not acceptable.

Tischler was sentenced in 2005 to 20 years in prison for negligent homicide. She has served some of her sentence at the Montana State Hospital.

She is asking for an injunction requiring that she and other Jewish inmates be provided with kosher food, at least on holy days and more frequently, if requested. She is also seeking a jury trial and punitive damages.

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