United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
Alphoncy Dangerfield, appearing pro se, is an inmate at
Oshkosh Correctional Institution. Dangerfield alleges that
when he was incarcerated at Wisconsin Secure Program
Facility, prison officials violated his right to practice
Islam by denying him meals timed to accommodate his fasting
during Ramadan. Dangerfield requested special Ramadan meals
long after the deadline for doing so, set for 60 days before
the start of Ramadan.
previously granted defendants' motion for summary
judgment on Dangerfield's failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies for his equal-protection claim. Dkt.
33. Dangerfield's remaining claims fall under the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
and the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause.
Dangerfield moved for summary judgment on the merits of these
claims early in the proceedings, immediately following the
court's preliminary pretrial conference. Dkt. 14. I
denied that motion because Dangerfield did not support his
claims with enough detail for a reasonable jury to conclude
that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Defendants have now filed their own motion for summary
judgment on these claims. Dkt. 34. Dangerfield did not file
materials directly opposing defendants' motion; I will
consider the materials he filed in support of his own summary
judgment motion to be his opposition.
grant defendants' motion for summary judgment on all of
Dangerfield's claims, mainly because the undisputed facts
show that the 60-day deadline for prisoners to sign up for
special Ramadan meals is an appropriate way to give prison
officials enough time to efficiently prepare those meals,
under either RLUIPA or First Amendment standards. The case
will be dismissed.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
Alphoncy Dangerfield is a state of Wisconsin inmate who
practices Islam. This case concerns his request to be placed
on the list to be given special Ramadan meals in 2018.
Dangerfield was incarcerated at WSPF, in Boscobel, Wisconsin,
during this time.
David Ewing was the chaplain at WSPF. Defendant Kelli Willard
West was the Division of Adult Institution (DAI) religious
practices coordinator. Defendant James Schwochert was the DAI
DOC and WSPF food services
Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
WSPF's Food Services department prepares meal bags that
are delivered to inmates to consume after sunset and before
sunrise every day of Ramadan. Each meal bag contains a
day's allotment of calories and nutrition to be eaten
during non-fasting hours. But inmates must sign up in advance
for Ramadan meals. DAI Policy and Procedure 309.61.03 governs
how facilities administer religious diets: inmates must
request an accommodation at least 60 days before the first
meal in the special period. This policy applies not only to
Ramadan, but to any religious special meal or fasting.
are exceptions to the 60-day deadline for prisoners who have
just been taken into custody, and for those who have just
been transferred to a new facility, if the inmate had
properly requested accommodation at a previous facility.
Defendant Ewing was not involved in drafting any version of
this policy, and defendants say that he had no authority to
depart from it.
Ramadan meal bag program requires considerable advance
planning and coordination between the food services
administrators at each DOC facility and the department
dieticians and budget staff. Food Services at WSPF starts
planning for Ramadan about three months in advance.
types of meal bags are prepared, including the standard
“general fare” bag, and bags that are Halal,
plant-based, or dairy-free. There are also special bags
adjusted to account for various medical needs, such as
low-sodium or low-fat/cholesterol diets, or for inmates with
peanut or soy allergies. Defendants say that the content of
the Ramadan meal bags is different than the regular meals
because the bag meals are intended to be eaten without being