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CAIR, CAIR-Georgia Secure $95K Settlement in Jail Religious Accommodation Case

CAIR, CAIR-Georgia Secure $95K Settlement in Jail Religious Accommodation Case

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its Georgia chapter (CAIR-Georgia) today announced the resolution of a significant religious accommodation case against the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office, securing a $95,000 settlement on behalf of their client, Norman Simmonds.

Simmonds, who has been detained without conviction at the Dekalb County Jail for two-and-a-half years, faced relentless and irrational denials of even the simplest requests, including requests for individual timepieces or a visible clock in the housing unit so he and other Muslims could know when to pray and fast.

When Simmonds requested a certified halal (Islamically-appropriate) or even kosher diet, the jail refused Simmonds the certified kosher meals it was already providing for Jewish detainees. Instead, it placed him and other Muslims on a vegan diet that provided an estimated average of 400-700 calories per day during Ramadan and no more than an estimated 1,400 calories any other day.

“The case sheds light on the anti-Muslim animus pervading jails and prisons across the country,” said Javeria Jamil, CAIR-Georgia Legal Director. “Dekalb County’s refusal to even hang a clock to accommodate Mr. Simmonds’ religious practice are indicative of the disregard for Muslims often seen in our country’s carceral system.”

After nearly two years of litigation, Dekalb County Sheriff Stacey Maddox recently agreed to hang clocks in every housing unit, provide certified kosher meals to Muslims who request them, allow congregational prayer in the housing units, and authorize outside donations of prayer rugs.

“Federal law clearly mandates that prisons and jails take reasonable efforts to accommodate detainees’ religious practice, even if it costs them money,” said Kimberly Noe-Lehenbauer, CAIR staff attorney. “We’re thrilled that the sheriff ultimately agreed to honor that.”

Claims remain pending against Trinity Services Group and Aramark Correctional Services, the food service contractors who provided—or altogether failed to provide—the nutritionally deficient meals.

Washington, D.C., based CAIR offers an educational toolkit, called “A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” to help correctional officers and administrators gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.

CAIR-Georgia’s mission is to protect civil rights, promote justice, empower American Muslims, and enhance the understanding of Islam.    


CONTACT: Azka Mahmood, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director, [email protected], Nazia Khanzada, CAIR-Georgia Communications Manager, [email protected]