Corrections officials in Michigan have agreed to institute new policies to expand inmate religious rights in the wake of a lawsuit and an investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Two Jewish inmates in state prisons filed a lawsuit asserting that the Michigan Department of Corrections’ policy on kosher meals failed to fully accommodate their religious needs, reported the Detroit News.
A federal appeals court sided with the prisoners. In a separate move, the DOJ began investigating the department’s policy toward small religious groups. The state had held that a religious group must have at least five members to meet. As part of the settlement, corrections officials will drop that requirement and remove prohibitions that had been placed on certain groups, unless there is evidence that they present a security risk.
“The Michigan Department of Corrections respects the rights of individuals to practice their chosen faith and thinks these changes will improve upon our already existing religious policies and enhance the ability of prisoners to express their faith,” Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the department, told the News.