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Alphonso Crawford, Ii v. Timothy Bukowski

January 28, 2013

ALPHONSO CRAWFORD, II , PLAINTIFF,
v.
TIMOTHY BUKOWSKI, AND JAMES STEVENSON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY U. S. District Judge

E-FILED Wednesday, 30 January, 2013 09:57:12 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This case is about whether a state correctional institution is required to provide a prisoner with meals in accordance with his religious dietary needs. The case is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [37]. While being detained before trial at the Cook County Jail, Plaintiff requested and was given vegan meals. He was then transferred to the Jerome Combs Detention Center (JCDC) for about a month. While at the JCDC, Plaintiff requested but was denied vegan meals. In fact, the JCDC readily admits that it has budgeted only so much for inmate meals, and vegan meals do not fit within that budget. In a series of admirably well-researched and well-drafted pleadings, Plaintiff challenges the JCDC's refusal to accommodate his religious dietary restrictions by providing him with vegan meals.

This court has carefully and thoroughly reviewed the arguments of the parties and the documents provided, including the exhibits provided and the transcript from Petitioner's deposition. Following this careful consideration, Defendants' Motion [37] is GRANTED.

Findings of Fact*fn1

1. Plaintiff is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. ([38] ¶ 2). At the time he filed the complaint, he was at the Cook County Jail [17], but has since been transferred to the Dixon Correctional Center (Text Order of August 25, 2011).

2. On July 24, 2010, Plaintiff was transferred from the Cook County Jail to the JCDC. [17]. 3. Between July 24, 2010 and August 21, 2010, Plaintiff was held as a pre-trial detainee at the Jerome Combs Detention Center (JCDC) in Kankakee County, IL. [17].

4. There, the intake officers asked Plaintiff what his religious preference was. Plaintiff self-identified as a Hebrew-Israelite. Plaintiff requested vegan meal trays due to his religious beliefs. Plaintiff indicated to JCDC staff that he previously received vegan trays at the Cook County Jail and provided a document indicating so. The intake officer was not sure who was responsible for dietary requests. ([17] p. 4).

5. Defendant Bukowski was, at all relevant times, the Kankakee County Sheriff. [38] exh. B ¶ 1, hereinafter "Bukowski Aff."). Defendant Bukowski was not involved in JCDC operations. (Bukowski Aff. ¶ ¶ 2-3).

6. Plaintiff did not speak, correspond, or otherwise interact with Defendant Bukowski regarding his request for vegan meals. ([38], exh. A, 53:15-54:5, hereinafter "Dep.").

7. JCDC operations, including the processing of grievances, are handled by Chief of Corrections Michael Downey and his staff. (Bukowski Aff. ¶¶ 6-9; [38] exh. C ¶¶ 1-2, hereinafter "Downey Aff.").

8. Defendant Stevens was the Program Director at JCDC, and as such, was responsible for planning and coordinating social services, including group religious worship or study. ([38], exh. D, ¶¶ 1-3, hereinafter "Stevens Aff.").

9. Defendant Stevens was not involved in the making or implementation of the food and meal policies, and has no authority to grant an inmate's request for an alternative diet. (Downey Aff. ¶ 4; Stevens Aff. ¶¶ 4-6.)

10. Plaintiff is forbidden from eating any meat or meat products, including milk, dairy, egg, cheese, or fish, according to the dietary laws of his religion. He is only permitted to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. (Dep. 37-38).

11. On July 25, 2010, Plaintiff filed a written request to receive vegan meal trays. ([17] p. 4).

12. JCDC's food service provider does not provide a vegetarian or vegan meal for any inmate detained at JCDC due to the cost restrictions. ([38] exh. E, ¶ 14, hereinafter "Lowe Aff.").

13. Plaintiff's request for vegan meals was denied. (Dep. 56).

14. While he was in custody at JCDC, Plaintiff ate only the grains, fruits, and vegetables off the standard meal trays. That portion of the meal tray was not enough food to fill Plaintiff so he was constantly hungry. (Dep. 55-56). Other inmates did not give Plaintiff portions of their meals. (Dep. 57).

15. Plaintiff suffered from emotional distress from being hungry and from being "really down because [he] wasn't able to eat normal like everyone else was." (Dep. 55 ¶ 21-23).

16. JCDC provides three non-pork meals per day, totaling at least 2,400 calories. These meals are designed to be nutritionally adequate by JCDC's food service provider. (Downey Aff. ¶ 14; Lowe Aff. ¶¶ 1-3, 8).

17. Individualized meals are not provided to inmates unless otherwise ordered by a physician for medical reasons. (Downey Aff. ¶ 15).

18. JCDC's food service contract has budgeted $3.05 per meal per inmate. (Downey Aff. ¶ 10; Lowe Aff. ¶ 9).

19. The cost of providing a nutritionally adequate vegetarian meal is at least $5 per meal and exceeds the per-meal budget by 64%. (Lowe Aff. ¶ 11)

20. The cost of providing a nutritionally adequate vegan meal is at least $10 per meal and exceeds the per-meal budget by 228%. (Lowe Aff. ¶ 12).

21. Defendants aver that providing a standardized dietary plan promotes administrative and staff efficiencies in that the same meal is purchased and served to all ...


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