U.S. Death Row Inmate's Gripe Over Kosher Food Rejected

Steven Hayes, a self-designated Jew, and a partner were convicted and sentenced to death for the 2007 rape and murder of a mother and two daughters.

A judge in the United States has rejected the arguments of a death row inmate that the food he is being served in prison is not kosher, the Washington Times reports.

Denying the request by Steven Hayes for a hearing and a temporary injunction, Connecticut District Court Judge Alvin Thompson noted that Hayes is offered kosher meals, and the state Department of Correction has two rabbis who periodically monitor the preparation of kosher foods in the prison system. The judge said both rabbis certified that the food and the food preparation process comply with dietary laws.

“Although (Hayes) raises as an issue the lack of a reliable orthodox certificate or an onsite Jewish overseer, he provides no evidence suggesting that their absence leads to a finding that the meals are not kosher,” the judge wrote.

Hayes, a self-described Jew who has not completed any conversion procedure, was convicted for the 2007 rape and murder of a mother and her two daughters. Both he and his partner Joshua Komisarjevsky were sentenced to death for the attack.

He described himself in his lawsuit as an Orthodox Jew and claimed to have suffered “almost two years of emotional injury from having to choose between following God and starving or choosing sin to survive.”

Thompson did not throw out the lawsuit. But in rejecting the motions, he found there was no likelihood it would succeed.

Karen Martucci, a spokeswoman for the Correction Department, said this month that Hayes has denied to prison officials that he is on a hunger strike.

Hayes also alleges he has been the subject of other religious discrimination in prison and was placed on a suicide watch for fasting last Yom Kippur.

This is not his first lawsuit against the department. In past litigation, none of which have been successful, Hayes has complained about his mental health care, harassment from prison staff and the temperature in his cell.