Prisoner Meals, Prevailing Parties, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act

Prisoner's-rights lawsuits always crack me up.  "How dare you now serve us the meat that our religion demands we eat!" is unironically screamed by people in prison.  Um, guys, if religion had been so important to you...You would not be in prison.  There is a near-perfect overlap between immoral conduct under religious law, and criminal conduct under the civil law.

Oh, but they found religion while in prison.  OK.  Perhaps the newly redeemed ought not apply their moral energy towards trivialities like food choice (you're not starving, guys), but instead should focus on materialities like...not being a scumbag criminal?  It is astounding.

Energy is a scarce resource.  One could pray, read books, learn job skills, volunteer to help other prisoners, write letters outside, etc.  Or one could self-implode because the prison is denying you tasty treats.

As we all know, no man is righteous life the self-righteous, and thus litigation over prison meals is common.  I've even worked on a few cases.  If an ass was good enough for Jesus to ride on, how dare I to refuse to ride the law when it's an ass?

In Perez v. Westchester County Department of Corrections, No. 08-4245 (2d Cir. Nov. 19, 2009), some Muslim inmates sued because they didn't get proper Muslim food.  Jews, however, got Kosher food.    After the Muslims sued, the prison began treating Jews and Muslims equally.  Thus the legal issues.

Were the Muslims prevailing parties under Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598 (2001).  Also, some of the inmates had been released from prison after the lawsuit had been filed.  Assuming those inmates were prevailing parties: Does the Prison Litigation Reform Act's pay caps apply to them?  Yes, and yes.  You can find out why by reading the opinion here.

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