Chicken or Fish? Neither for Dr. Jayant Patel. The Portland surgeon accused of manslaughter and malpractice was booked into Multnomah County Detention Center on March 11, and he was damn hungry.
Patel's attorney stated in his first court appearance that her client was not getting proper meals in jail—meals that catered to his Hindu religious background. But according to Deputy Travis Gullberg, no one at the detention facility was made aware of Patel's vegetarian diet.
“He does have the vegetarian meals now,” says Gullberg. Special meals are taken very seriously at Multnomah County Detention Center, and there is system for meal requests that Patel never adhered to. “You must request special meals in writing,” says Gullberg. Inmates are given a handbook when they are booked into the county jail that explains the forms to fill out to request a special meal, Gullberg says. “We verify their requests—actually the Chaplain's office researches these requests,” especially if they are regarding a religious-based meal.
He was supposed to fill out a form requesting vegetarian meals. But he never did.
first broke the story, contacting the detention center last week, and asking why Patel wasn't being fed his proper meals. Deputy Gullberg says special meal requests are an everyday deal at the jail. Out of the 495 inmates at the detention center, 59 inmates have special meal requests. At the Inverness Jail in east Portland, out of 1,037 inmates 137 are on special meal requests.
Gullberg says immediately after Australian reporters called, officials began the paperwork to get Patel's vegetarian meals.