Food, objects and work days for Oklahoma inmates often are dictated by religious preference

Oklahoma state policy provides a number of accommodations for a long list of recognized faiths.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: June 3, 2012
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The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 guarantees religious freedoms for all incarcerated inmates in the United States.

Special meals such as kosher and halal are just two of several accommodations made for religious offenders, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections policy.

The department's policies manual designates certain days that are non-working days for certain faith groups, special festive foods are allowed during holiday ceremonies and the department has developed a long list of items allowed in prison cells by offenders with certain verified faiths.

Exceptions and special rules made for religious offenders are outlined in the policy manual, but decisions are made on a facility-by-facility basis with the help of a chaplain.

Food

Kosher and halal meals are made available for verified Jewish and Muslim inmates, and Buddhist inmates have the option of eating vegetarian meals.

Additionally, protocol calls for kosher meals to be served cold Saturdays, and for halal meals to be served before dawn and after sunset during Ramadan, which requires fasting during daylight hours.

Substitute menus for religious purposes are approved by a licensed dietitian, but access is approved by the chaplain based on a particular faith's recognized sacred text, historically established procedures and outside religious authorities.

Special foods for religious ceremonies also are allowed, including Seder plate and matzah for Jews on Passover, dates for Muslims during Ramadan, and bread and grape juice for various Christian denominations for the celebration of communion or the Eucharist.


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