Jewish services will be conducted at the Utah State Prison beginning Friday under an out-of-court agreement among the Utah Department of Corrections, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and Congregation Kol Ami.
The agreement stemmed from a lawsuit filed two years ago in U.S. District Court by inmate Robert Treff. Among other allegations, Treff said Corrections officials had denied his religious freedoms because he had no access to Jewish religious services.Details of the agreement were announced in a joint press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Community Kol Ami synagogue, 2425 E. 2760 South.
Corrections and ACLU officials said they are pleased an agreement could be achieved without taking the issue to court - an uncharacteristic meeting of the minds.
ACLU executive director Michele Parish-Pixler said preserving the inmate's constitutional rights was the organization's primary concern.
"Our interest is religious freedoms for all inmates. That was our interest for intervening," she said.
The first service will be conducted Friday afternoon and will be led by Rabbi Frederick Wenger. Thereafter, volunteers from the synagogue will conduct the weekly sabbath services, Wenger said.
According to a letter of understanding prepared by ACLU cooperating attorney Jathan W. Janove, the services will be conducted in the Wasatch Chapel.