Orange County

OC Jail Inmates Demand Better Food, Visits, Religious Services

The litigation also alleges that inmates are receiving the wrong Jewish diets, including sandwiches during Passover when they are not allowed to eat bread.

LAgenerics OC Jails September 2019
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Orange County Jail inmates suing the county for a variety of issues related to their housing filed a motion Thursday demanding an improvement in their meals, a resumption of visits and access to religious services, all of which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orange County Jail inmates recently conducted a short-lived hunger strike as they demanded a resumption of hot meals, which were restored for a short time at some jails.

"Presently, most prisoners except those in Theo Lacy, get soybean mystery meat (baloney) sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner," the motion reads.

"This food is inedible and must be supplemented with snacks from the commissary. Those who cannot afford snacks go hungry."

A Go Fund Me campaign is raising money for inmates to buy snacks from the commissary, according to the motion.

The litigation also alleges that inmates are receiving the wrong Jewish diets, including sandwiches during Passover when they are not allowed to eat bread.

Visits from family have been suspended since March and the inmates demand that something to be done to provide some sort of visits that could be done under the state's social distancing guidelines.

The litigation also complains of a restriction on religious visits or services.

Inmate Kendall Cole, who has been in custody since 2016, said in a declaration said he used to receive Kosher meals, "but I am now served `Halal' meals. That is a different religious diet. I am Jewish and need Kosher meals."

Cole said he recently testified that jail guards gave him a weapon and was instructed to attack Joshua Waring, the son of a former "Real Housewives of Orange County" cast member, who recently was released from jail following a plea deal for attempted murder.

Cole said he was sentenced to 15 days "in the hole" in connection with the attack and that legal materials he received through the law library were "confiscated" along with his "religious head covering (Kippah) and my Jewish calendar."

Cole said he was "housed with Joshua Waring when the guards shot a pepper ball into our room. This caused choking and tearing to the dozen or so prisoners even though we were in our housing units. The guards threatened us and told us not to say anything to the investigators. We did not say anything because we feared these threats. We all know of the subsequent attacks on Joshua Waring."

Waring is a plaintiff in the litigation.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department issued this statement regarding the allegations:

"Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the sheriff's department has worked closely with the Board of State and Community Corrections and the Orange County Health Care Agency to meet all health and safety guidelines for inmates and staff, as required by law. This includes meeting the nutritional needs of every inmate in our care. Protecting individuals in our custody and personnel assigned to our jail facilities during this unprecedented time remains a top priority for the sheriff's department."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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