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A Somers, Conn., inmate can survive on peanut butter, jelly, and an otherwise common-fare diet, and will not be provided food and drink free of Jewish religious kosher symbols, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Richard Rittenband ruled recently. As a member of the “World Church of the Creator (WCC),” an organization described on its Web site as being for those “helping to save the white race,” inmate Michael Scatena requested a temporary injunction for the Department of Correction to serve him only a vegetarian diet in prison, stating it was against his religion to eat food with the Jewish kosher food symbols. In another matter related to Scatena, Rittenband reversed his earlier decision allowing a fellow inmate and WCC member now at Wallens Ridge Prison in Virginia to communicate with Scatena by mail, citing security concerns. Some Connecticut inmates are in the Virginia prison to ease overcrowding here. Although Rittenband denied Scatena’s July motion for a temporary injunction on the inmate’s dietetic complaints, the judge said in his November decision that the WCC could be counted as a religion. “The court finds that there is no specific definition of a religion that would exclude the WCC,” Rittenband wrote in his ruling. “The court, therefore, for the purposes of this motion is willing to accept the WCC as a ‘religion’ no matter how racist and abhorrent the principal of said religion may be.” Rittenband wrote that the court “was willing to accept that being required to eat foods approved for Kosher could be a violation” of Scatena’s religion. He cited a book known to the WCC as the White Man’s Bible that states “as the White Race becomes united, informed and aroused, we will boycott every Jew and every aspect of Jewish influence in our society.” Scatena, who has had 291 disciplinary tickets since his conviction for tampering with a witness, will be eligible for release this summer. The inmate said that, because of the kosher symbols, he could not eat any condiments served at the prison, nor could he eat foods such as Guida’s orange juice and milk, Crispy Rice Cereal, Cornflakes, Wachusett potato chips and other foods. Although the court pointed out to Scatena that water, fruits and vegetables are all kosher although they are not so labeled, the inmate disagreed because such items do not bear kosher labels. Robert Deveau, former director of food services for the DOC, testified during a hearing on the motion that a common-fare diet, a meatless diet which provided up to 2800 calories a day, met the recommended daily allowance for nutritional purposes. He further suggested that if Scatena added peanut butter and jelly in lieu of milk, fish and eggs, the diet would be nutritionally sufficient, but that the food director would need approval from the DOC before offering it. He also expressed concern that other inmates might request the same diet. However, Rev. Anthony Bruno, director of religion at the Northern Correctional Institute at Somers, said he knew of only one other inmate besides Scatena — John Barletta — who considered himself a member of the WCC. Barletta, an inmate serving two consecutive life sentences for murder, including the strangulation of his former cellmate, was recently transferred to Wallens Ridge after slashing a warden in the face. The WCC reportedly rejected Barletta since the incident, saying they do not condone violence. In October, Rittenband granted a motion to vacate his decision allowing Barletta to communicate with Scatena by mail after prison officials expressed security concerns over the communications. According to court documents, Barletta claimed Scatena was his legal counsel, and had asked the court to grant permission allowing the two to communicate. On Sept. 19 the court granted, ex parte, Barletta’s motion to converse with Scatena by mail only. DOC spokesperson Christina Polce said that the DOC does not allow inmates to serve as legal counsel to other inmates.

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