Target: Warden Scott Erfe, Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution
Goal: Stop Feeding Vegetarian Prisoners Meat
Howard Cosby, a vegetarian Buddhist at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Connecticut, has been fed fish three times per week due to the prison’s views that seafood is not meat. Crosby would prefer to renounce fish as well, however the prison refuses to provide him with proper nutritional alternatives. Under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, this is considered a breach of religious freedom rights.
Though not all Buddhists are vegetarian, Crosby abstains from meat as part of a nonviolent lifestyle. He considers fish and seafood to be meats as they are the flesh of once living, breathing animals. His persistent complaints have been dismissed by staff as the department does not consider fish to be meat, therefore, his diet is vegetarian by corrections standards.
Federal laws state that prisons must avoid causing substantial burdens on religious exercises practiced by inmates. The warden and staff are doing just that by refusing to provide Crosby with appropriate alternatives to fish and seafood. Freedom of religion is one of the only remaining rights and livelihoods for prisoners, and should not be abridged during rehabilitation.
Using present day nutritional science, it is possible to easily and cost effectively substitute non-meat protein and iron sources into diets. In fact, some of the alternatives can be cheaper and easier to prepare than fish or meat meals. Your signature will tell warden Scott Erfe that he has no excuse not to comply with he religious and moral requests of his prisoners.
Dear Warden Scott Erfe,
Howard Crosby, a practicing Buddhist inmate housed in the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution, is being fed fish despite his vegetarian diet. In keeping with their religion, some Buddhists abstain from consuming any animal flesh for nonviolence reasons. Fish and seafood are produced by killing a living being, and therefore are not suitable for Mr. Crosby and other lacto-ovo vegetarians.
Though your department does not consider seafood to be meat, many religious groups do. Not only Buddhists, but Hindus, Sikhs, and some Islamists consider even fish to be against the teachings of their religion. Feeding these inmates such is a breach of their religious freedom under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which states that an inmate’s diet must meat proper nutritional standards while being free from any food items prohibited by religious dogma.
I ask that proper nutritional alternatives are provided to Mr. Crosby and any other vegan or vegetarian inmates. It is integral that prisoners be allowed to practice religion to the extent of their desire, as it promotes spiritual rehabilitation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: millipedetime via Creative Commons