The Alaska Department of Law and the Council for American-Islamic Relations have settled a lawsuit stemming from the feeding of Muslim prisoners during Ramadan.
As part of the settlement, the state will pay $102,500 to plaintiffs Anas Dowl and Ernest Jacobsson. The settlement also requires changes in the way the Department of Corrections feeds prisoners during Ramadan and in the way prisoners are permitted to pray.
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 against Dean Williams, the commissioner of corrections under then-Gov. Bill Walker. The settlement was approved Friday by federal Anchorage District Court Judge H. Russel Holland, and the case has been closed.
Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during the 30 days of Ramadan, meaning that state-held prisoners who observe the fast cannot participate in regular meal schedules. The lawsuit alleged that the alternative meals offered to Dowl and Jacobsson were dangerously meager and that Muslim inmates were being starved.
Judge Holland issued an emergency order requiring the state to address the situation. The case had progressed through the federal legal system and was headed toward trial before the settlement was announced this week.
The settlement states that Muslim inmates also “are permitted to congregate for each of the five daily prayers in their mods,” “are permitted to facilitate Friday religious services,” and “Muslim inmates are permitted to participate in Islamic study groups.”