After more than a decade of legal battles, Texas has decided to bow to the religious rights of Jewish inmates after courts didn't buy the state's argument against doing so.
Max Moussazadeh is an Orthodox Jew who broke the law in the early 1990s, was convicted then ordered to prison in Texas. He found that kosher meals weren't provided in the prison system, leaving him the choice of eating the food offered there or starving. But he chose a third option: filing suit against the prison system, which he did in 2005.
Becket attorney Luke Goodrich tells OneNewsNow his client endured a lengthy court battle.
"He was in federal court for 12 years and went up to the 5th Circuit twice and won both times [in 2010 and 2013]," the attorney explains. "Fortunately, because of his lawsuit the state of Texas changed position and decided that it would start offering kosher meals to Orthodox Jewish inmates."
At first Texas claimed the meals would be too expensive, but Goodrich explains his firm disputed that claim as the case moved forward.
"We were able to show that the kosher meals only cost a few pennies more than the regular meals," he says. "At the end of the day the court ruled that any [additional] cost of kosher meals was really minimal – actually less than .005% of the state's annual food budget."
The state decided to begin providing kosher food to all kosher-keeping Jewish inmates, and the 5th Circuit dismissed the case on Friday.
Becket has won similar cases in which a prisoner wants to practice his faith in a purely peaceful and beneficial way. Goodrich says prisons ought to permit it because studies have shown that allowing prisoners to exercise their faith actually leads to better behavior in prison and to less likelihood of crimes committed after release.