The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint of a former Okanagan Correction Centre inmate Dec. 3, 2020 regarding his denial of kosher meals while incarcerated. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News file)

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint of a former Okanagan Correction Centre inmate Dec. 3, 2020 regarding his denial of kosher meals while incarcerated. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News file)

Human Rights Tribunal dismisses kosher meal complaint from Okanagan inmate

Tribunal determines the inmate failed to provide any evidence he should be served kosher meals

A former Penticton man has had his discrimination complaint for being refused kosher meals in prison thrown out by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Morgan Griffith filed the complaint against the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (BC Corrections) in October 2017 while he was incarcerated at OCC after being sentenced for assault.

Griffith had asked for kosher meals and for a Hebrew dictionary and was denied both requests by BC Corrections, leading him to file a discrimination complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

However, Griffith’s complaint was dismissed by the tribunal on the basis that Griffith could not sufficiently prove his connection to Judaism.

READ MORE: Okanagan Correctional Centre outbreak due to training session: Interior Health

For an incarcerated person to receive kosher meals they must be able to prove to corrections that they were practicing Judaism and eating kosher meals prior to being incarcerated in consultation with a Rabbi, according to the ruling from the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

If the inmate cannot prove a prior connection to the Jewish faith their request for kosher meals will be denied but they will be provided information on converting to Judaism and corrections may revisit its denial of the request for kosher meals in the future.

In the case of Griffith, the tribunal found that he was not practicing Judaism but had Jewish heritage and wished to be served kosher meals on that basis.

Following this process, Griffith met with the Chaplain at OCC after his request. The Chaplain said Griffith told him that he was not Jewish but rather had Jewish heritage and qualified for a kosher meal because of this.

A transcript of a phone conversation between the chaplain, a Rabbi and Griffith shows Mr. Griffith explaining that he was not Jewish but had Jewish ancestry, and that his mother was not Jewish but has a “Jewish last name.” It also suggests Mr. Griffith was unsure about the diet he followed at home.

After being transferred from OCC to the North Surrey Pretrial Centre, Griffith made continued requests for kosher meals but was denied on the basis that he could not prove his connection to the Jewish community. Griffith gave corrections the name of a Rabbi and synagogue he claimed to be connected with, but when corrections reached out to the synagogue they claimed to have never heard of the Rabbi or Griffith.

In response to his requests for a kosher diet, Griffith was approved for a vegetarian diet.

Griffith was released from custody in Jan. 2019. The decision to dismiss Giffith’s complaint was made by British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in Dec. 2020.

“Mr. Griffith says that the denial of a kosher diet made him feel Corrections was against him practicing his religion. However, in his submissions and further submissions, he has not said anything about what his subjective religious belief or connection to Judaism is or why he sought a kosher diet,” Human Rights Tribunal member Emily Ohler said in her ruling. “He does not address the transcript… where he appears to have little understanding of what a kosher diet entails, or whether he has followed one in the past.

“Mr. Griffith has put forward so little evidence about his connection to Judaism, the role a kosher diet plays in that for him, and why the denial of a kosher diet affected him adversely, that I am persuaded the Tribunal could not find that Corrections’ denial of a kosher diet in all of the circumstances constituted an adverse impact related to his religion.”

READ MORE: Another inmate files lawsuit against Okanagan Correctional Centre



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

prison

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Agassiz resident Miel Bernstein is collecting sanitary products for locals in need. These products came from her donation drive before Christmas and were delivered to people in need in Chilliwack and Agassiz. (Contributed)
Agassiz resident collecting pads, tampons for women in need

The program will help provide menstrual and incontinence products for people in Chilliwack, Agassiz

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Seabird Island to receive COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks

All members 18 years and older will be eligible to be vaccinated

Prolific offender Jonathan David Olson (left) and Brodie Tyrel Robinson, both of Chilliwack, were convicted of several offences in BC Supreme Court in August 2019 in connection to a crime spree on the Canada Day long weekend in 2017.
Chilliwack gangster sentenced to 11.5 years in prison for 2017 crime spree

Jonathan Olson involved in shooting a fellow crime associate in the head

Pete Ryan, known all over the world for his chainsaw carvings, died on Friday, Jan. 8. He was 70 years old. (Contributed Photo/Dignity Memorial)
Iconic Hope chainsaw carver Pete Ryan has passed away

Ryan is a founding member of Hope’s famous chainsaw carving community

Screenshot from video.
2 students arrested in assault of transgender girl at Mission middle school

Mother said daughter was targeted because of how she identifies

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

Most Read