United States District Court, D. Maryland
Eugene Edward Winder, Plaintiff, Pro se, Jessup, MD.
For Gary Maynard, Defendant: Stephanie Judith Lane Weber, LEAD ATTORNEY, State of Maryland, Baltimore, MD.
J. Frederick Motz, United States District Judge.
Pending is self-represented Plaintiff Eugene Edward Winder's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). Defendant Gary Maynard, by his counsel, has filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment with affidavits and verified exhibits. ECF No. 15. Winder has filed a reply with a declaration and exhibits. ECF No. 19. No hearing is needed to resolve the issues presented. See Local Rule 106.5 (D. Md. 2011). For reasons to follow defendant's motion for summary judgment IS GRANTED.
In this complaint, Winder, an inmate at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI) in Jessup, Maryland, claims defendant hindered
his religious practice. Winder, who identifies himself as member of the Wiccan community, presents allegations concerning the celebration of the Samhain Feast. ECF No. 1. As redress, he seeks declaratory relief and monetary damages. Id.
This court reviews the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007). That review liberally construes plaintiff's pleadings in light of the fact that he is proceeding pro se.
Winder, Secretary of the Wicca Faith Group at JCI, claims that on August 2, 2010, he submitted a proposal to Chaplain Peterson for a holy day observance and ceremonial meal. ECF No. 1. He indicates that the proposal was approved but the ceremonial meal was never provided. Additionally, Winder claims that he has been denied access to dietary facilities in order to store and cook foods in preparation for his religious feast. He claims other mainstream religions are permitted access to these facilities. He also indicates that kosher meals and halal meals are served to religious groups but his religious meal requests are not honored. Specifically, Winder takes issue with the failure to provide pork through the dietary department to him and other members of the Wiccan community. Id.
The record evidence demonstrates that Winder's proposal for holiday observance and ceremonial meal presented to Chaplain Peterson included a list of several food times to be used for the Samhain Feast celebrated by the Wiccan Community. ECF No. 15, Ex. 1-2. Included within the requested items were pork chops and bacon, or alternatively pork ribs, tenderloin, or medallion. The Chaplain approved the feast but denied the request for pork items. Id., Ex. 3. Winder filed a grievance and was advised that pursuant to DOC policy and procedures the dietary department could not purchase or prepare the requested pork items, but that Winder was free to purchase pork items from the commissary. Id., Ex. 3 & 6. An investigation of Winder's claim that he was denied pork products found that he had been provided an alternative means for purchasing pork which was a reasonable accommodation for his religious dietary request. As such his administrative remedy request was found non-meritorious. Id., Ex. 2.
In order to accommodate the needs of all prison inmates, approximately 25 years ago the DOC decided to discontinue the use and supply of pork products and to strictly forbid the use of its kitchens and food preparation tools to prepare pork products. ECF No. 15, Ex. 3. In order to further penological interests regarding budgeting and avoidance of perceived favoritism amongst inmate groups, the DOC has established two menus: the master-cycle menu (which include fish, poultry and meat not including pork) and the lacto-ovo menu. Id. The menus provide items which all inmates can eat which fulfill nutritional concerns and do not offend ...