Shawnee County Jail inmate Jason W. Hachmeister, a practicing Muslim facing a murder charge linked to the strangulation of his mother, is pursuing a federal religious discrimination lawsuit seeking $100 million from defendants that include Shawnee County.
Hachmeister, acting as his own attorney, filed the suit in a handwritten petition submitted Dec. 26 to U.S. District Court in Topeka.
The petition consists of a 24-page complaint and 19 pages of supporting documents.
It contends Hachmeister has experienced discrimination and indifference in the jail on multiple occasions because of his religious beliefs.
“Therefore the only way to get the jail and its administration to quit paying lip service to ‘fixing’ a problem when they don’t is to hit them in the pocketbook,” he wrote. “I am therefore asking for $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars).”
Defendants listed in the petition include the state of Kansas; the Shawnee County Commission; the Shawnee County Jail; Aramark Correctional Services; Mary Fletcher, of Aramark Food Services; Richard Kline, the county’s former corrections director; Brian Cole, the current corrections director; corrections department employees Tim Phelps, Shawn King and Goody Ari; and six corrections department employees whose full names weren’t given.
The petition said Hachmeister in January 2012 began requesting and receiving a certified religious diet from the jail, which failed on numerous occasions last summer during the Muslim season of Ramadan to provide him with food that properly met the requirements of his Muslim faith.
Hachmeister wrote: “During Ramadan my (certified religious diet) food was messed with, not properly fixed by kitchen staff and administrators, even after repeated requests to do so. I have also listed other instances of food being tampered with and also when I’ve been locked down so Christians can pray or witness and when I’ve requested the same treatment I don’t even get the dignity of a response, let alone the ability for Muslims to do the same.”
County counselor Rich Eckert responded Wednesday that Shawnee County employs Aramark to provide meals to its jail inmates.