Murder, is that really kosher?

Murder, is that really kosher? 

http://bit.ly/1vPtro8

Jail. The word jail for many can instill fear and terror at just the thought; it can be a place of internment, rehabilitation or confinement. North America is known for having some of the most advanced prison technologies of any country, placing great emphasis on the security and safety of its people, but how progressive are these jails for the people residing inside its walls? Many prisons have high standards in accommodating the very diverse needs of convicts inhabiting the facilities; of facet of these needs is religion.  For a jail in Connecticut this has been a source of conflict for an entire year.

Steven Hayes, a Connecticut inmate awaiting execution for the murder and sexual assault of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters attempted to sue the department of corrections for not providing him with 100% kosher food while being incarcerated. Hayes who identifies as an Orthodox Jew filed an amended complaint on November 7th 2014 outlining what he describes as “extreme weight loss”, noting that at the beginning of his stay in 2007 he weighed 170 pounds and now weighs less than 120 pounds.  Hayes attributed this weight loss to the fact that the department did not have “reliable orthodox certification that guarantees with certainty that the food and process is kosher”. Hayes began complaining in May of 2013 and noted in his most recent complaint he suffered for “almost two years of emotional injury from having to choose between following god and starving or choosing sin to survive.”  Even though the department of corrections offers kosher alternatives to inmates that request it Hayes did not believe that their standard of kosher was acceptable. Additionally Hayes describes himself as being the center of religious discrimination when he was put on suicide watch while fasting during Yom Kippur last year.

The first thing that is striking about this article is the sheer irony of the situation. Hayes claims to be torn between living in sin to survive and obeying Jewish law to remain faithful to his religion. This irony is astounding because refraining from sin was clearly not a relevant forethought as he chose to participate in murder and sexual assault. Hayes claims his objections and protests to the department of corrections are all in the name of God but this is hard to believe when considering the reasons as to why he was placed in jail. This leads to the question, to what extend do people take advantage of religion?

In this case Hayes is using religion as a source of special treatment either to gain attention or for some self-serving purpose, this is not the first time Hayes has been recorded making complaints to the department, previously he had complained about the temperature of his cell. Religion became a second source of entertainment when he his other complaints weren’t being attended to. Though it is entirely possible Hayes “found God” while in prison, it seems more likely that he is taking advantage of the rights and freedoms associated with identifying within a religion. It is disappointing to see someone use religion as a source of disruption or distraction rather than for faith.  Though this is not the first time ever that religion has been used to serve alternative purposes, this makes us wonder how is it possible to determine whether someone has genuine religious beliefs and is that up to us to decide?

http://bit.ly/1vPtro8

MR.H

#200

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5 thoughts on “Murder, is that really kosher?

  1. Great blog post! Although I hadn’t heard about this particular new story before reading your blog, I have heard of similar cases in which inmates use religion to their advantage. I agree with your statement that it is “likely that he is taking advantage of the rights and freedoms associated with identifying with a religion” because it is unlikely to me that right after committing triple homicide (which killing is an obvious sin) he is all of the sudden worried about the sin of consuming food that is not kosher.

    Although, like you stated in your blog, Steven Hayes may follow the Jewish tradition and truly feel that he must only eat kosher food, I believe that another reason for him starting such a conflict could be of sheer boredom. Knowing that he is to be executed in the near future, Hayes has no reason to act with good behavior in the hopes of an early release. By attempting to sue the department of corrections, perhaps he believes he is helping out other Jewish orthodox inmates or for some “self-serving purpose” that we are not sure of. Even though we will probably never know whether Hayes actions are for the greater good or for personal enjoyment, I think that everyone reading either this blog can agree that committing murder but then demanding for kosher food due to religious beliefs do not correspond with one another.

  2. Great blog post! Although I hadn’t heard about this particular new story before reading your blog, I have heard of similar cases in which inmates use religion to their advantage. I agree with your statement that it is “likely that he is taking advantage of the rights and freedoms associated with identifying with a religion” because it is unlikely to me that right after committing triple homicide (which killing is an obvious sin) he is all of the sudden worried about the sin of consuming food that is not kosher.

    Although, like you stated in your blog, Steven Hayes may follow the Jewish tradition and truly feel that he must only eat kosher food, I believe that another reason for him starting such a conflict could be of sheer boredom. Knowing that he is to be executed in the near future, Hayes has no reason to act with good behavior in the hopes of an early release. By attempting to sue the department of corrections, perhaps he believes he is helping out other Jewish orthodox inmates or for some “self-serving purpose” that we are not sure of. Even though we will probably never know whether Hayes actions are for the greater good or for personal enjoyment, I think that everyone reading either this blog can agree that committing murder but then demanding for kosher food due to religious beliefs do not correspond with one another.

  3. That was a well-written and interesting post. Thanks for the read!

    I also had not heard this particular story before but have heard of cases of inmates taking advantage of religious rights to serve ulterior motives.

    This story reminds of the so-called adherents (Pastafarians) of the flying spaghetti monster ‘religion’ and the rights they have demanded in the name of their religion. From what I understand, the Pastafarian’s objective is to show that if special rights and privileges are given to other religious members, they also should be entitled to special rights and privileges based on their religion. They do have a point. However, this could be taken to ridiculous levels: a Pastafarian recently fought to have his driver’s license photo taken wearing his religious headgear, a pasta colander (http://huff.to/1qneUdQ).

    I would argue that either all religious rights be respected or no religious rights be respected in the public sector. Since it is difficult to practically allow the respect of all religious rights, I would argue that no religious rights should be granted in the public sector. As a prison is often operated by the state and paid for using state funding (though perhaps not in Connecticut), it is a publicly run operation and thus should not grant rights based on religion.

  4. That was a well-written and interesting post. Thanks for the read!

    I also had not heard this particular story before but have heard of cases of inmates taking advantage of religious rights to serve ulterior motives.

    This story reminds of the so-called adherents (Pastafarians) of the flying spaghetti monster ‘religion’ and the rights they have demanded in the name of their religion. From what I understand, the Pastafarian’s objective is to show that if special rights and privileges are given to other religious members, they also should be entitled to special rights and privileges based on their religion. They do have a point. However, this could be taken to ridiculous levels: a Pastafarian recently fought to have his driver’s license photo taken wearing his religious headgear, a pasta colander (http://huff.to/1qneUdQ).

    I would argue that either all religious rights be respected or no religious rights be respected in the public sector. Since it is difficult to practically allow the respect of all religious rights, I would argue that no religious rights should be granted in the public sector. As a prison is often operated by the state and paid for using state funding (though perhaps not in Connecticut), it is a publicly run operation and thus should not grant rights based on religion.

  5. Hello,
    Thank you for your blog post. It is quite disappointing to read about religion being used as a tool to provide comfort, rather than a way towards hope, however, that appears to be one of the biggest paradoxes ever as well. There are certainly methods that could help solve the issues by using simple self-identification. I think that many people are already far from fearing about what religious group they belong to as we see many religious people in Canada, in some cases, openly promoting the religious groups they belong to. If the government keeps these records it may prove dangerous during potential political conflicts, similar to the Holocaust during World War II. Perhaps, a better solution to this issue of government privacy invasion would be if the religious institution itself keeps a tally of the people who belong to that religious group. Perhaps, if a person is required to identify themselves for at least a year in advance, which would mean that the person may not attempt to abuse the privileges that a particular religious group could lead him to. The religious groups should build their own particular code of punishment that mimics the legal sphere, but does not go over or under the law. This, even if one “accidentally” finds god behind the bars or in any other legal complications, one still may be allowed to join, but one should also be required to commit to and even to endure the code that that particular religion has towards people who have breached human laws.
    #349
    Eek

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