Next week a federal court will consider whether Florida can continue denying kosher meals to Jewish prisoners, even when the vast majority of state prisons and the federal government have provided them for many years. Florida claims that providing kosher meals would be too expensive—even though the estimated cost of providing such meals is less than 0.02 percent of its annual budget, and even though studies show that allowing prisoners to practice their faith reduces both violence in prison and repeat crime outside of prison.
Florida is the only large prison system in the country that still insists on denying kosher meals to observant Jewish prisoners, despite the fact that it already provides a variety of more expensive, specialized diets for medical needs of its prisoners. Last year, a federal district court ordered Florida to begin providing kosher meals for all observant Jewish inmates, and Florida appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In March, the Becket Fund filed an amicus briefurging the protection of the religious rights of all prisoners. This lawsuit is the first time the U.S. government is suing a state prison system under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
Oral Argument in U.S. v. Florida Department of Corrections
Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. EST
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
99 N.E. 4th Street Miami, Florida 33132
posted on The Global Dispatch