Clark County inmate sues sheriff over food served in jail - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Clark County inmate sues sheriff over food served in jail

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -

A Clark County inmate is suing the sheriff over the food he was served in jail, claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

Clark County inmate Steven Bowers filed a five-page handwritten lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana that claims he was forced to eat food against his religion.

"I have been forced to eat food from unclean animals or starve," reads Bowers' suit against Sheriff Jamey Noel and the Clark County Sheriff's Office. 

Bowers is a 44-year-old Messianic Jew and requires a special diet. He said he requested kosher food in a sealed tray, but alleges the jail failed to provide the "constitutional right to choose, observe and practice" his religion behind bars.

Officials deny Bowers' claims. 

"We respect all religions in the Clark County Jail, and we try to accommodate all requests, by any inmate, for any religion," Capt. Scottie Maples said.

Bowers was booked into jail on January 5 of this year on charges of theft, false informing and probation violations.

Maples said that all inmates can voice religious practices upon booking.

"We have questionnaires that ask if there's any special accommodations you need, and then once you're in the section, we have a kiosk where you can submit a request that is reviewed by our staff," he said.

Officials say Bowers did not follow jail protocol by using those kiosks, instead attempting to submit handwritten notes. When he did meet with a chaplain, we're told his diet changed the next day.

"Our jail chaplain handled it with our kitchen staff, and we are accommodating what he requested as we speak," Maples said.

Bowers is requesting a jury trial and $300,000 in damages. 

Jail records show Bowers has been booked into the Clark County Jail 38 times. Officials said this was the first time he's requested a modified diet.

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