Buddhist Inmate Denied Vegetarian Diet

Seth Victor

The Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, CT is required by directive to provide “all nutritional requirements as determined by a Department of Correction licensed dietitian, without the presence of food items Veggie Fishforbidden by religious dogma” to all its inmates. Howard Cosby is a practicing non-violent Buddhist, and while not all branches of Buddhisim require a vegetarian lifestyle, Mr. Crosby identifies as a person who wishes to not cause harm to other living animals. Mr. Crosby, however, has regularly been served fish while incarcerated, because the department of corrections does not consider fish to be meat. Now to be fair, this position isn’t wholly out of line with the arbitrary classifications animals receive by the government. It is not, however, an encouraging example of semantics. If the Connecticut Department of Corrections has the authority to declare what is and is not meat, what is stopping it from saying cow or chicken is not meat? If the only criteria is its own opinion, the answer is, not much. One may think that common sense would intervene, but common sense hasn’t prevented the staff at Corrigan-Radgowski from confusing convenient Catholic loopholes with an entirely different doctrine. Now I know that once you are in prison you cease to be a person that the country cares about, your rights don’t apply, and as long as you stay out of sight it doesn’t matter how long your sentence is. But let’s at least learn what a vegetable is.

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11 Responses

  1. If Mr. Crosby is interested in asserting his rights, please ask him to contact me or another animal law/vegan attorney. I just happen to be admitted to the federal bar in CT and have experience with 42 USC 1983 and related statutes and am extremely not happy about structural carnism.

  2. Attorney Maher,
    Please contact me at 914-305-5324. I would like to help you with regard to the above. I am a vegan, am admitted to practice in CT and am co-founder and co-chair of the CBA Animal Law Section.

  3. As a native Nutmegger, an ethical vegan and a former juvenile detention and jail chaplain, I’m glad to hear that John Mayer (whose name I recognize from another blog) is a member of Connecticut’s bar and seeks to right this wrong. I’m also happy that Suzan Porto of the CBA wants to help.

    Seth, thanks for raising this issue with the aim of bringing justice to Mr. Cosby. By the way, could you possibly drop the extra “d” in this sentence and thus save your readers a good bit of head scratching: “It is not, however, and [an] encouraging example of semantics.” Merci! :-)

  4. Dear Chaplain,
    Would you mind giving me a call at the number I have provided above so that I may discuss something with you of which I believe you will be interested.
    Thank you,
    Suzan Porto

  5. Hi Suzan, I haven’t lived in my home state, Connecticut, for 26 years. I reside far from there now. You still want me to call?

  6. Yes, if you don’t mind. If I miss your call, please leave your return number.
    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for the editing catch.

  8. Thanks to Susan Porto for your response.

  9. Is it really that much trouble for the state to allow inmates to observe their religious dietary restrictions?

  10. […] Animal Blawg notes that the Catholic Church, like Connecticut’s  Department of Prisons, categorizes fish as not-meat, which is where the  tradition of eating it on Fridays and during Lent comes from. Catholics are  supposed to deprive themselves on those days, and some people think forgoing  meat is a deprivation. Clearly they have never seen an Isa Chandra Moskowitz cookbook. […]

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