CHICAGO (CN) - An Illinois prison chaplain does not have immunity from constitutional claims that he refused vegan mails to an inmate who adheres to the Moorish Science Temple, the 7th Circuit ruled.
While incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, Mondrea Vinning-El requested a vegan diet on religious grounds. Noting that the tenants of Moorish Science only require a non-pork diet that can include dairy products and many kinds of meat and fish, prison chaplain Rick Sutton denied the request.
Vinning-El sued Sutton and the warden under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and USC @1983, claiming that his religious beliefs require a vegan diet no matter what other members of his sect believe.
U.S. District Judge David Herndon granted summary judgment for the prison officials, saying statutory language precluded the claim because Vinning-El now resides at a different prison and is receiving a vegan diet. As such, damages would be the only potential relief, which the judge said is impermissible under RLUIPA.