An interesting lawsuit has been filed in Connecticut at a federal prison for women in Denbury. Prison officials suddenly reduced the number of items that Jewish prisoners can purchase for Passover, which inmate Agnes Kole says was in direct retaliation of her successful challenge to an earlier discriminatory action taken by the prison.
Kole wants to be able to the purchase of Passover staples such as chicken, gefilte fish and smoked salmon for the holiday. At first glance, this would seem pretty weak. However, Kole is making some disturbing allegations of retaliation and the Bureau of Prisons has offered the weakest possible explanation in support of its actions.
The prison used to allow inmates to purchase from a list of 12 items but suddenly reduced it to just five- matzohs, grape juice, two kinds of chocolate and macaroons.
Kole is a Jewish inmate from New Jersey. She is a Nigerian national who helped orchestrate the shipment of over 60 pounds of nearly pure heroin into the country between 1990 and 1993.
Kole had earlier challenged the decision by the prison to reduce the amount Jewish inmates could spend on Passover food from $290 to $100. She was successful in this effort, but then the officials turned around and said that she could spend more but have less to buy.
This seems pretty suspicious — made more so by the explanation of the BOP — they do not want the items to be used for barter in the prison. Since the prison sells items like watches, shoes, and pizza making kits it seems like a facially absurd argument. Yet, the Court may not want to get into such motivational issues. If the court does not, the inspector general should.
For the full story, click here.