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December 17, 2010

"Festivus for the rest of us, O.C. Jail style"

Festivus The title of this post is the headline of this awesome holiday-season article from the Orange County Register about how a inmate managed to talk his way into a healthier meal for his jail stay.  Here are the details:

Festivus may only come around only come around once a year — more often if you watch "Seinfeld" reruns — but longtime county inmate Malcolm Alarmo King was able to celebrate it three times a day while locked up at the Theo Lacy jail in Orange.

King’s quest for a healthier eating option while behind bars ended with a county lawyer forced to research the origin of Festivus and its traditions and a Superior Court judge recognizing the holiday — which lodged its place in pop culture on an episode of "Seinfeld" — as a legitimate religion.

The menu selection at Theo Lacy apparently didn’t please King, 38, when he was booked into the jail on drug charges in April.  They serve salami there.  And that didn’t quite fit in with the fitness buff/gym clothes model’s lifestyle.  So King, who is also suspected of being in the country illegally from Liberia, asked for kosher meals.... 

Judge Derek G. Johnson signed off on the high-protein double-portion kosher meals for King.  That didn't sit well with the Sheriff's Department — which pays for the food.  Kosher meals are more expensive than the regular jail fare — and are reserved for those with a religious need.... 

When sentencing day came, King pleaded guilty to the sale or transport of a controlled substance — a felony.  Two other felonies were thrown out.  But King still wanted his non-salami meals.

Judge Johnson pulled King's lawyer and the prosecutor aside and said he needed a religion to put down on the order to make it stick, explained [King's lawyer Fred] Thiagarajah.  “I said Festivus,” said Thiagarajah.  The order was granted — three non-salami meals a day.

County Counsel researched Festivus, arguing the holiday was the creation of writer Dan O’Keefe to celebrate his first date with his wife in 1966.  The holiday was introduced to the world by his son Daniel, a screenwriter for "Seinfeld," who wrote it into the show.  Seinfeld celebrated Festivus with an aluminum “Festivus pole” instead of a tree and traditions such as the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength.”  Easily explainable events were “Festivus miracles.”...

King was released from county jail Oct. 5 and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  He is awaiting deportation, according to ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley.  No word if Festivus celebrations are allowed in ICE detention.

December 17, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

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