Inmate - Solano, CA
Convicted of four counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child. He is serving four consecutive terms of fifteen years to life due to two prior rape convictions.
In 2003, the state of California settled a lawsuit with Victor Wayne Cooper who is serving a 60-year sentence for child molestation. Cooper had sued the state for not providing him with kosher meals. As part of the settlement, the state agreed to make good-faith efforts to have kosher food available to inmates in all of its 33 prisons by 2006.
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Table of Contents:
- Admitted to prison (11/01/1989)
- People v. Cooper (06/19/1992)
- California to serve kosher meals to Jewish inmates (12/15/2003)
- Orthodox inmate fights the law to keep kosher — and wins (12/19/2003)
- Demand for Kosher Cuisine Swells Ranks of Jewish Prison Chaplain (06/13/2008)
- California Inmate Look Up (10/15/2013)
7 Cal. App. 4th 593 [8 Cal. Rptr. 2d 912]
Justia US Law - June 19, 1992
California to serve kosher meals to Jewish inmates
Orthodox inmate fights the law to keep kosher — and wins
By Joe Eskenazi
Jewish Weekly - December 19, 2003
The state for years willfully ignored its obligation to provide kosher meals for Orthodox inmates, according to the lawyers of a Jewish prisoner who this week won that right via a legal settlement.
The California Department of Corrections agreed Wednesday, Dec. 10, to provide kosher meals to Victor Wayne Cooper and his fellow inmates at Solano State Prison. The settlement further stipulates that the state must make "good faith efforts" to provide kosher programs in all state prisons by 2006.
The state was eager to settle the case because, in refusing to provide Cooper with meals, "they knew they were breaking the law," said Cooper's co-counsel, Shinyung Oh.
A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 1997 ordered the state of Arizona to provide kosher meals to a Jewish inmate and should have pertained to California as well.
"The problem was, the law has been very firmly established since 1997, and the California Department of Corrections has been ignoring it all these years. The 9th Circuit [ruling] should apply to all the states in the circuit. They've just been ignoring all this time," Oh said.
Before suing the state, Cooper, a convicted child molester decades into a 60-year sentence, spent years exhausting the prison's administrative remedies in his quest for kosher food. At one point, he even went on a hunger strike.
"Every step of the way, he was denied. It was an extra expense," Oh continued. "They claimed it was too expensive."
Greg Fayard, a deputy state attorney general, strongly denied that the state was knowingly violating a 9th Circuit ruling. Instead, he argued, the Department of Corrections' food administrators "were not aware of the 1997 decision until it came up in this lawsuit." Instead, they adhered to an earlier state law declaring that a special meal for observant prisoners cannot cost more than a regular meal.
The food administrators "are not attorneys, and it's not their job to do research on religious liberty," he said. "They didn't know."
Cooper's co-counsel, Heather Nolan, said a prepackaged kosher meal would cost around $2, $1 more than a regular meal.
Fayard said he wasn't yet sure what a "good faith effort" to create a statewide kosher program within two years would entail, but said a task force is being "assembled to formulate some sort of plan."
Demand for Kosher Cuisine Swells Ranks of Jewish Prison Chaplain
By Rebecca Spence
Forward - June 3, 2008
California Inmate Look Up
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation - October 15, 2013
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