Alaska Corrections agrees to settlement that changes policies for Muslim inmates

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Big changes are coming for Muslim inmates serving their time in Alaska. A lawsuit brought forward last year by the Council on American-Islamic Relations asserted the Alaska Department of Corrections did not accurately allow Muslim inmates to practice their religion. The suit was spurred on by two Alaska inmates who stated that during the holy month of Ramadan, they were served cold meals while other inmate's meals were hot. They went on to say some of the meals they received contained pork, something Muslims do not eat because of their faith. The Council on American-Islamic Relations went on to say that the inmates were not receiving enough calories during the holy month.

In a settlement signed Friday by a federal judge, the Alaska Department of Corrections has agreed to serve Muslim inmates, during the month of Ramadan, at least two hot meals a day. When observing Ramadan, believers fast from dawn to dusk, so the meals will be served after the sun is down. The meals must total a minimum of 3,000 calories and cannot be taken away or altered as a form of punishment. The agreement also calls for Friday religious services or study groups to be held. Lastly, the department agreed to pay $102,500 in damages, costs, and attorney fees. The attorney for the plaintiffs' says this settlement makes Alaska a model for how Muslims should be treated while incarcerated.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says they will be holding free religious sensitivity training for department superintendents, chaplains and grievance officers.

Ramadan ended this year on June 3rd. It will start again next year on April 23rd.

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