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Case Name Carr v. Federal Bureau of Prisons PC-IN-0018
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00001-WTL-WGH ( S.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On January 3, 2014, Muslim prisoners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for failing to provide certified halal meals to the prisoners. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that ... read more >
On January 3, 2014, Muslim prisoners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for failing to provide certified halal meals to the prisoners. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that the failure to provide a halal-certified diet was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000bb-1(c) and a violation of the Fifth Amendments' equal protection requirement.

The prisoners' Religious Diet Program provided kosher meals, however the meat in kosher meals was not slaughtered according to Islamic law, and furthermore had the tendency to be contaminated by alcohol and other products forbidden under Islamic law. Prisoners were also offered a "no-pork" or "no-flesh" alternative meal plan, however these too were susceptible to contamination by products forbidden under Islamic law. Prisoners had the option of purchasing food through the commissary, however there were very few halal-certified products, and prisoners were unable to afford such products. As a result, the prisoners had to violate their religion in order to survive.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons' Religious Diet Program originated after a 1980 lawsuit filed by Muslim inmates seeking access to halal meals. In response to that suit, in 1984 the BOP voluntarily instituted the Modified Common Fare Religious Diet Program, which would be free of pork and pork derivatives, free of contamination, and would include at least three hot entrees a week to accommodate the religious diet needs of the Muslim and Jewish inmates. See Al Shakir v. Carlson, 605 F. Supp. 374, 375 (M.D. Penn. 1984). Although some halal meals were served at different facilities after 1984, at some point the Federal Bureau of Prisons abandoned the Modified Common Fare Religious Diet Program in favor of a Religious Diet Program called the Certified Processed Foods Program, which consisted of individual sealed trays of pre-prepared kosher-certified meals. The Religious Diet Program meals were not certified as halal.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant's failure to provide the plaintiffs with meals that conformed to their religious beliefs placed a substantial burden on their religious exercise, a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which did not further a compelling government interest. The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendant's failure to provide them with halal meals violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and an injunction requiring the defendant to provide the plaintiffs with a halal-certified diet that conformed to their religious beliefs. They also asked for attorney's fees.

The parties engaged in discovery for several years. On October 11, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the defendants from denying Plaintiffs access to halal-certified meals with meat that accord with their religious beliefs.

On October 28, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims of three plaintiffs for lack of jurisdiction. The defendants argued that their claims were moot because they had been moved the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute and had not requested to be placed in the BOP's Certified Religious Diet Program.

On July 28, 2017, following additional discovery, the plaintiffs filed, and the court granted, a motion for leave to supplement their preliminary injunction with material factual information that had been unavailable to them at the time of the initial briefing in late 2016.

On September 19, 2017, Judge Lawrence ruled on all of the pending motions. He denied the defendants' motion to dismiss and denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction as moot. Judge Lawrence then ordered the parties to present all of their arguments in summary judgment briefs.

In late 2017, both parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. On September 19, 2018, Judge Lawrence denied both parties' motions for summary judgment.

After several months of discovery, the plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and a second motion for summary judgment on June 1, 2019. After a status conference held by phone, the parties reported that they had made progress in their settlement negotiations, and requested the defendants' pending motions be dismissed without prejudice.

On June 2, 2020, the parties stipulated a dismissal in this case. They filed a settlement agreement with the court on September 2, 2020 which guaranteed the plaintiffs access to a Halal diet meeting accreditation and nutritional standards during the duration of their current incarceration with the BOP as long as they did not violate any general rule or condition of the Religious Diet Program. Specifically, the defendant agreed that the Halal diet would offer the provision of Halal meat no fewer than seven times per week. The defendant also agreed to keep records regarding the Halal diet and to furnish them to the plaintiffs upon request.

Along with the settlement agreement, the plaintiffs filed a motion for attorneys' fees, which was referred to Magistrate Judge Mark Dinsmore and remains pending before the court.

Rachel June-Graber - 02/22/2016
Eva Richardson - 10/14/2018
Alex Moody - 04/11/2020
Rachel Harrington - 04/15/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Muslim prisoners in the federal prison system.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 01/03/2014
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
S.D. Ind.
11/13/2020
2:14-cv-00001-WTL-WGH
PC-IN-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Ind.
01/03/2014
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-IN-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ind.
06/13/2014
Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Attorneys' Fees [ECF# 18]
PC-IN-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ind.
09/02/2020
Settlement Agreement and Release [ECF# 338-3]
PC-IN-0018-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dinsmore, Mark. J. (S.D. Ind.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Lawrence, William T. (S.D. Ind.) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Appel, Carolyn (New York) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Carr, Brian L. (California) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0003
Crenshaw, Mark show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0003
Garagiola, Meredith N. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Garcia, Bradley N. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Gill, Matthew C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0001
Hammack, Scott M. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Kent, Tron show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0003
Leviss, David J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0001 | PC-IN-0018-0002 | PC-IN-0018-0003 | PC-IN-0018-9000
Love, Lindsey R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
McDermott, John P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Meals, Darcy M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Thorn, Jessica L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Wilson, John show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0003
Zaslavsky, Sergei (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Woods, Shelese M. (Indiana) show/hide docs
PC-IN-0018-0003 | PC-IN-0018-9000

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