A Jewish prisoner on Kentucky’s death row, William Harry Meece, says he is being denied kosher food at the state penitentiary because ‘he is not kosher enough.’
The Courier-Journal reports that in a suit filed in federal court, Meece, a member of a Reformed Jewish synagogue in Lexington, says he was unfairly removed from a kosher meals program for eating a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club that wasn’t marked “kosher.”
According to the report, Meece claims he was born Jewish, and the requirement to eat only kosher foods applies exclusively to Orthodox Jews, while Reform Jews, including most of Jews in the United States, can keep kosher by just avoiding pork , shellfish and not mixing meat and dairy at the same meal.
In an interview to Courier-Journal , Senior Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, who holds a master’s degree in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, one of two Reformed synagogues in Louisville, said Meece is absolutely right.
The Jewish Prisoner Services International ministry claim that more than 20, 000 prisoners nationwide falsely identify as Jewish to get these meals. That’s because Kosher meals cost 72 percent more to make – $1, 913 a year per inmate versus $1, 113 for non-kosher ones.
Meece has sued over his religious rights before. He wanted to worship in the prison chapel on Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath – rather than on Sunday. The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that he can pray in his cell instead.
Meece awaits execution for killing three members of an Adair County family, Joseph and Elizabeth Wellnitz and their 20-year-old son Dennis. Prosecutors said Meece and their surviving daughter, Meg Wellnitz Appleton, conspired to kill them and split the inheritance.
Appleton pleaded guilty, got a life sentence and killed herself in prison in 2014. Meece says he’s innocent.
In letters to The Associated Press, Meece, a former landscaper and cab driver in Lexington who met Appleton when they were both enrolled at the University of Kentucky, wrote: “I. Did. Not. Murder. The Wellnitz Family.”