In 2007, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky invaded a home in Cheshire, Connecticut, where they horrifically murdered a mother and her two children. Hayes and Komisarjevsky were sentenced to death for their crimes. Now, Hayes is suing the Connecticut Department of Correction and several of its officials for being refused a kosher diet. The handwritten complaint (available here) is brought under the First Amendment (Free Exercise) and the Eighth Amendment (Cruel and Unusual Punishment) to the U.S. Constitution, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
In his complaint, Hayes claims that he “signed-up” for Judaism in 2013. Before that, he followed the “philosophy of Taoism.” He claims “[a]s an orthodox practicing Jew I am entitled to a kosher diet that follows the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut.” He complains that the kitchen at the correctional institution where he is being held does not have an “orthodox kosher certificate or a Jewish overseer to maintain strict kosher storage, prep and cooking standards.”
He alleges that the Department’s refusal to provide him with a kosher diet prevents him from freely exercising his religion and violates the First Amendment and RLUIPA. He further alleges the refusal to feed him kosher food is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, “since the denial of the kosher diet forces me to eat non-kosher food in order to survive. I have also experienced secondary weight loss due to refraining from eating non-kosher products.”
Hayes seeks injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as punitive and compensatory damages in the amount of $15,000 “due to the intentional infliction of pain, suffering and resulting weight loss from the deliberate denial of a kosher diet.
For local coverage, click here.