Jewish inmate sues UK prison service

The prisoner was told he couldn't receive kosher food until his faith was 'confirmed' by a Rabbi.


A Jewish prisoner is suing HM Prison Service, alleging that he was refused kosher food until he could “prove” he was Jewish – and that this meant he was without proper food for 19 days.

John Reuben, who is currently serving time at HMP Lancaster Farms, is seeking a “judicial review” after authorities there and at HMP Manchester, where he was previously held, said he had to have his faith “confirmed by a Rabbi” before receiving kosher food, according to the Daily Mail.

Writing about his experiences for Inside Time, a magazine for prisoners, Mr Reuben said he had been told at HMP Manchester: “You cannot have kosher food until your faith has been confirmed by the Rabbi”, and had to wait five days for this confirmation. When he was moved to HMP Lancaster Farms he was told the same thing – only this time he had to wait two weeks for a rabbi to come and identify his status.

“Surely my faith should already have been marked on my paperwork as it had already been confirmed at [HMP] Manchester”, he wrote.

“This, to me, is pure discrimination as only Jews and Mormons have to go through this 'proving' their faith before being fed a religious diet.

“Muslims do not have to see an Imam, their word is good enough, nor do Hindus, Buddhists or Sikhs.”

Mr Reuben wrote that he still only received one kosher meal a day.

“I successfully sued HMP in 2000 over the same discrimination and won £5,000 in compensation, and I shall be taking this one for Judicial Review”, he wrote.

 “I urge all other Jewish prisoners to pursue a claim against HMP as they do not have a legal leg to stand on”.

A spokesperson for HMPS told the Mail that while it did not comment on individual cases, the Prison Service Instruction with regards to Faith and Pastoral Care for Prisoners says “'Any Jewish prisoner who satisfies the Jewish Chaplain appointed to the establishment (or obtains such confirmation from their 'home Rabbi') that they have a sincere desire to adhere to the Jewish faith and to follow Jewish dietary laws, will be entitled to one Kedassia supervised Kosher main meal per day whilst in prison.

Any such prisoner who satisfies the Jewish Chaplain and Governor that they cannot partake of vegetarian food may receive a second pre-packed Kedassia supervised Kosher main meal or a Kedassia supervised Kosher sandwich/baguette”.

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