PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is supporting a convicted criminal who says prison officials have ignored numerous requests that he not be fed fish on his vegetarian diet.
"Clearly fish is meat," PETA attorney Jeff Kerr told the AP Sept. 3. "They have thoughts. They have interests. They have a central nervous system. They are not swimming vegetables."
Howard Cosby, 35, is upset that he continues to be fed fish three times a week because officials at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, Conn., don't consider fish to be meat.
Kerr says the prison's refusal to accommodate Cosby's vegetarian diet violates a federal law (the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) that requires prisons to not unduly burden an inmate's right to practice his religion.
Cosby, who was sentenced to 19½ years in prison for sexual assault in 2004, claims he follows a vegetarian diet as a practicing Buddhist.
The Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution is now reviewing the matter after PETA sent the warden a letter requesting that fish no longer be included on Cosby's diet. Kerr is optimistic the request will be approved. However, PETA stands ready to escalate the situation if necessary. Other inmates around the country have won similar disputes over dietary issues.
"We can't imagine they would want to make a federal case out of this," said Kerr. "It seems so simple to just comply with his request, as the federal law requires them to do."