Prison Stories

Islamic Law Dictates Federal Prison Menu by Robert Rosso

Federal Prison Menu

Inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons( BOP) are no longer being served pork or pork products, a measure taken by prison officials to accommodate the Muslim population.

In June, prisoners at a Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Indiana were informed by kitchen staff that begging the first week of October, pork will be removed from the National Menu.  According to Marty Crossly, an inmate at the prison, the Assistant Food Service Administrator (AFSA) explained the decision that was made at the Central Office level.

“He (the AFSA) said that too many Muslim’s in the system were complaining about how their meals were being prepared in the same pots and pans as pork, so the Bureau caved and let them get their way,” Crossly told Gorilla Convict. “But I guess the official version says something totally different.”

In deed, the official version is not even close. In an article published in the Washington Post , Edmond Ross, a  spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, claimed the decision was based on a survey of prisoners food preferences.

“They just don’t like the taste of pork,” Mr. Ross said. “Why keep pushing food that they don’t want to eat? Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years.”

th_fciTo find the truth, Gorilla Convict went inside FCI Terre Haute on Columbus Day and spoke to several inmates.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” said inmate Nicholas McDougal, when Gorilla Convict presented him with the official statement. “Pulled pork and pork chops are by far the best meals that they serve in here. All you have to do is go inside the chow hall on any day that those meals are served, and you’ll see long lines of people waiting to eat pork.”

McDougal also points out that the food preference survey that Mr. Ross is referring to can’t be accurate.

“I took that survey Mr. Ross is talking about,” McDougal said. “It was a standard survey that they do every year, and most inmates don’t even bother filing them out because nothing ever changes.”

“And what about the guys in the SMU, CMU, and the lock down units and SHU’s across the country?” McDougal continued.  “They couldn’t have taken the survey because it was given to us as an option through the inmate computer system, something that known of those guys have access too.”

Amin, an African-American inmate who converted to Islam since he has been in prison, spoke to Gorilla Convict under the condition of anonymity.  He believes that the move to remove pork from the BOP menu was a nod to Muslim prisoners.

“Eating pork is a direct violation of Islamic law,” explains Amin. “We can’t eat it, we can’t touch it, and it aint supposed to be prepared around nothing that our meals is prepared in. And that’s what they’ve been doin’ to us for all these years and years. This has been a long time waitin’, and yes I believe Barack Obama and his wife Michelle did this for us.”

Richard Ramsey said that he doesn’t think it’s right that, “these Muslim fellars gotta go ruin everything for everyone else.”  He points out that if an inmate doesn’t want to consume pork, the BOP does offer “Common Fare,” an alternative diet program specifically designed to meet the religious needs of all inmates. “Hell, all they gotta go do is sign up. It don’t take no rocket scientist to do it.”

According to United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons Program Statement #5360.0, any inmate who wishes to be placed on the Common Fare program must first submit a statement in writing to the Chaplin explaining the reasons why they can’t eat regular meals served on the main-line. Once this step in completed, the Chaplin will then determine if the requesting person can eat with through a self-service process with the rest of the general population (which does offer a no-flesh option and access to a salad bar) or if they must eat through a nationally recognized, religiously certified processed food program.

Inmate Anthony Keith Green, a pork-lover currently housed at FCI Terre Haute, believes that the change was probably made due to complaints from the Muslims about cross-contamination issues, but wants pork put back on the menu immediately.

“Walk up to any Muslim in here, and I don’t care if they are black, brown, purple or red, and tell them that the Food Service Administrator said we’re all getting steak and beef ribs from Denny’s today, but that it’ll be served in pans along with pork chops and bacon and see what they do,” Green said. “I’ll bet you not one of them would turn it down.” He also revealed that it’s not uncommon for Muslims in prison to buy pork on the black market and sneak-eat it in their cells.

“I made about twenty dollars a month just selling pork chops to Muslims on the down low,” He said. “Now they went and fucked up a good hustle too.”

BOP policy statement 4700.06, Chapter 2. #8  makes clear that meal selection is based on “…eating preferences of the general population,” among other things.

Marty Crossly now believes that the BOP used this policy against the inmates, by submitting to the inmates a phony survey, one in which prisons officials would later point to and falsely claim that the majority had asked to remove the pork.

“It was a set up,” Crossly told Gorilla Convict. “They duped us. They predetermined that pork had to go, but they wanted to make it appear like we asked to have it taken out. It’s a typical deceptive tactic by typical lying governmental employees.”

As a practicing Catholic, Crossly realizes that this policy change will effect his Christmas meal. “Ham has been a Christmas tradition for us forever in here, and now that’s gone. Can they even do legitimately do that?”

The answer is yes, yes they can.

William Walker learned this the hard way. As an Odinist, a white pagan religion with Germanic roots, when he learned that the pork was gone he turned to the Chaplin for guidance in regards to his ceremonial meal, one which requires pork. In an exchange of email dated 9/12/2015 confirmed by Gorilla Convict, Walker writes:

“Dear Chaplin, Beginning in October, the BOP is taking pork off the national menu. Because of this, I was wondering what steps we need to take to ensure that pork will be available for our (The Odinists) “Yule” meal? Should we send a cop-out to you months or weeks in advance?”

The Chaplin responded: “Mr. Walker, at our institution, the menu for ceremonials must come from the national menu. Ceremonials items are not provided. You are required to select items off the national menu only.”

“So what he’s saying is we’re not getting pork, and pork is what we are supposed to eat. ” Said Walker. “And it’s not like some second thing, pork is the main part of our meal.”

“This is all about Obama catering to Muslims,” Walker continued. “And when you think about how he apologized to the Muslims in Egypt, and how he’s given Iran what they want, and how he was friendly with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, its hard to think that he ain’t a Muslim.”

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, predicted that conspiracy theories regarding the menu change would start to spin.

“This is just the kind of thing that drives then crazy,” He told the Washington Post. “It will stoke the fires of Islamaphobia based on the usual conspiracy.”

Walker responds to Hooper’s comment by saying, “It is what it is. And what it is is a majority of inmates want pork, some of us supposed to get pork for our religious meal, but all of a sudden, after all these years of having pork served to us, we have a president who acts like a Muslim and takes away our pork for the Muslims and that’s a conspiracy? Hell, that’s a fact.”

It should be noted that the BOP is not the first prison system to take pork off their menu. Other systems including The Utah Department of Corrections have done the same, only they have been forthcoming about the reasons why.

“Pork and pork products are not served in the meals provided to inmates at the USP Utah_ because of religious objections from the inmates (2011 U.S District LEXIS 124367 Warner v. Patterson October 27. 2011)

As for Amin, he says it’s only the beginning. Muslims in the BOP are still prohibited form wearing pants above their ankles, which violates a tent of their belief, and he wants to ask Obama for help.

“Brother Yahya (John) Lindh (As in John Waler-Lindh, the “American  Taliban” who is housed in Control Management Unit of the same prison) has been fighting for our rights to wear our pants as intend by Allah from in harsh and cruel conditions, and he ain’t made no progress. I call on you President Obama to help keep on helping us fight for our religious freedom rights. Pease finish what you started.”

If you liked this article check out more from Robert Rosso here.