Florida Dept. of Corrections Sued for Not Offering Kosher Meals in Prison
The Florida Department of Corrections was sued this week by the Federal Department of Justice for not offering Kosher meals to prisoners.
Florida prisons did offer Kosher meals to prisoners up until 2007, but cut the program in 2007 due to budgetary issues. Because the system never had halal foods, the Jewish Dietary Accommodation Program was also used by some Muslim inmates because the religion's dietary codes have some similarities.
Though, at the time the Department of Corrections stopped serving pork products to all inmates, and suggested Jewish and Muslim inmates eat vegan or vegetarian meals instead.
But the DOJ says Florida "forces hundreds of its prisoners to violate their core religious beliefs on a daily basis." A federal law says prisons can not inhibit their prisoner's ability to worship.
While the food in Kosher meals cost the state about as much as regular meals ($2.66 per meal back in 2007), costs for transportation of the meals between prisons (not all were equipped to prepare Kosher food) and disposable containers hiked the cost up to about $4.71 for Kosher meals.
In 2010, the FDOC did begin a program that once again offered Kosher meals to some select prisoners in South Florida. Only prisoners 59 or older, or who are eligible to assignment to a work squad and have legitimate religious beliefs are allowed to take part in the program. The DOJ says that Florida most offer the option of Kosher meals to all inmates through out the state.
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