Watts v. Byars (D.S.C. 2013): Religious Accommodations for Prisoners

The Plaintiff, Marcus Leeotis Watts, sued the Respondents, various prison officials at the Perry Correctional Institution in South Carolina, for allegedly violating his rights under RLUIPA and the First Amendment when the prison failed to provide Muslim prisoners with ḥalāl meat. The Respondents contended that the vegetarian meal option that complied with Islamic law was adequate, and sought summary judgment. The District Court granted summary judgment for the Respondents, citing earlier case law providing that the failure to provide a ḥalāl diet containing meat did not substantially burden prisoners’ exercise of religion because a Muslim prisoner is not religiously-obligated to eat meat.

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