A federal judge found that the Massachusetts prison system violated an inmate’s civil rights by denying him a vegan diet, reports the Boston Globe. The ruling came in a case filed by Daniel Yeboah-Sefah, who is serving a life term for beating his 5-week-old son to death and attacking the baby’s mother.
U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf concluded that the system violated a 2000 federal law that protects religious freedom in prison. Although the prison had offered Yeboah-Sefah a standard vegetarian diet, he has sought a vegan diet that excludes all animal products, including eggs and milk products. Steve Kenneway, president of the 4,500-member state correction officers’ union, condemned the case as an example of when inmates “manipulate the system.” “How does a person’s religious diet become a priority with what goes on in the prison system?” he said. “I’m shocked that it got to a federal court. Religious rights are very important, but this is an inmate who murdered his child.” Because Yeboah-Sefah could not be sure that vegetarian meals did not contain trace animal products, he has relied heavily on beans and rice that he bought at the prison canteen, his lawyer said.