Update: After PETA contacted Warden Scott Erfe and let him know that the prison is required by law to honor Crosby’s religious beliefs, Crosby will now receive a “nutritionally adequate substitute” in each of his meals that would have included fish. Prison officials should certainly encourage an inmate’s adherence to the principles of nonviolence in all forms, including regarding his or her diet.
Originally posted on September 3, 2013 and written by Alisa Mullins.
Have you ever heard of an artichoke fish? Neither has Howard Cosby, who is currently incarcerated at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut. A practicing Buddhist, Cosby has repeatedly asked to be provided with vegetarian meals in accordance with his nonviolent religious beliefs. The prison has accommodated him—sort of. It provides him with vegetarian meals, except for three times a week, when he is served fish. When Cosby objected, he was told that the prison does not believe that fish flesh is meat.
This week, PETA wrote to the prison in Cosby’s behalf, pointing out that a) fish are not vegetables, as most of us learned in high school biology class, and that b) there is ample legal precedent for granting prisoners the right to vegan and vegetarian meals under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits correctional facilities from imposing substantial burdens on inmates’ religious exercise.
In one such case, the judge chided prison officials for their refusal to provide an inmate with vegan meals, saying, “[W]hy make a federal case out of it? … [W]hat the State did here, digging in its heels and saying no, seems quite unreasonable to me.”