COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A decision by Ohio officials to remove all pork products from prison menus in response to a lawsuit by Muslim inmates is not sitting well with the state’s pork producers and processors.
Both promise action of their own, including a possible counter lawsuit, to address what they consider an unfair and illogical decision.
“We really think it’s not in the best interest, frankly, of the whole prison system,” said Dick Isler, executive director of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. “It seems like we’re letting a small group make the rules when it really isn’t in the best interest of the rest of prisoners.” Pork is inexpensive and nutritious and compares well to other lean meats, he said.
Ironically, the inmates’ lawsuit doesn’t involve pork at all; it demands that non-pork meats like beef come from animals slaughtered according to Islamic law. But the prisons system responded by simply removing pork as an option altogether.
If Ohio would provide Muslim inmates with pre-packaged meals similar to those given to Jewish inmates, as the lawsuit requests, it wouldn’t be necessary to remove pork from menus, said David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which is suing on behalf of the two inmates.
On the other hand, California provides packaged kosher meals to Jewish inmates and halal meals prepared at prisons for Muslim prisoners. While Texas, does serve pork to prisoners, offers Muslim inmates regular, meat-free or pork-free meals but not halal meals.