A legal battle over kosher food for Jewish prisoners in Texas begins Monday.
Max Moussazadeh, a Persian Jew who was convicted of murder in 1993 and was originally sentenced to 75 years in prison, says that withholding kosher food is a breach of his religious rights and violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
Currently, thirty-five states and the federal government provide Jewish inmates with a kosher diet. Texas, however, has refused to provide a strictly kosher diet to Moussazadeh. The case will be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.
The Becket Fund, a nonprofit law firm that is arguing on his behalf, has said that providing kosher food would come at minimal cost and would represent less than .02 percent of the Texas prison system’s annual food budget. They also argue that mounting evidence suggests that increased religious programming reduces violence and that prisoners who attend religious events fewer disciplinary reports.