Muslim inmate claims TDCJ denied religious dietary restrictions

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Mar. 1, 2011, 7:58am

GALVESTON – A Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate claims he is not being served meals prepared in accordance to his religion's laws, recent court documents say.

Cornelius Boulard Jr.'s lawsuit against TDCJ alleges that the defendants did not provide Boulard, a practicing Muslim, with a halal diet plan.

The suit was filed Feb. 23 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas.
Halal allows Muslims to eat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, meat from animals with cloven hooves and fish, but prohibits the consumption of pork and blood.

Boulard, an inmate at the Stringfellow Unit in Rosharon, shows that a majority of states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons provide a halal diet. TDCJ has the facilities to meet the dietary needs of its Muslim population, but refuses the plaintiff to access them, the suit alleges.

Boulard claims he repeatedly attempted to address the issue to no avail.

"The defendant(s) have never demonstrated the existence of any compelling government interest for their decision to substantially burden the plaintiff's religious exercise by denying him a halal diet, or demonstrated how the failure to provide a halal diet is the least restrictive means of advancing any such alleged compelling government interest," the original petition says.

Consequently, the complainant asks U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt to issue a ruling requiring TDCJ to provide a nutritionally-sufficient halal diet or a conforming kosher diet.

Case No. 3:11-cv-00092

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