Inmate wants kosher meals, sues Kent County in federal court

Kent County, MI – An inmate at the Kent County Correctional Facility has filed a federal lawsuit over the jail's refusal to serve kosher meals.

Bradley Keith Sleighter, who is serving a nine-month sentence for first-degree retail fraud, said he has lost 30 pounds since he was jailed in mid-January.

He filed the lawsuit on his own in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

“I am only eating salad, coleslaw, bread and breakfast cereal, and even this violates kosher law because it is served on a tray that the meat is on, which is not kosher,” he wrote.

“Therefore it is considered unclean for Jews to eat.”

Kosher foods meet Jewish dietary laws, which address, in part, the slaughter and preparation of animal products, and prohibit pork products.

Undersheriff Jon Hess said he couldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but said the jail does not provide a special meal based on inmates’ religious beliefs.
“We provide a diet based on medical needs,” Hess said.

He said a similar complaint was filed years ago. A judge said the jail did not need to provide special meals as long as the caloric value of the food met minimum standards when non-kosher foods are removed.

Hess noted, however, that the jail no longer uses pork products. Instead, it uses turkey.

The county has not been served with the lawsuit, which has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Janet Neff.

Sleighter, 54, wants the jail to provide him with a packaged, sealed kosher meal, and punitive damages for every day the jail hasn’t complied with his demands.

“If the jail is unwilling to provide packaged kosher meals provided from an outside source, then they must build a Jewish kosher kitchen.”


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