Respecting religion not kosher in FL

Thursday, July 14, 2016
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

prison yard sceneJuly 15, 2015 ... SEE UPDATE (below)

Florida has had a difficult time defending its denial of kosher meals to Jewish inmates. 

Although Florida's prison system provides Halal meals to Muslims, officials rejected Jewish prisoners' request for kosher meals setting off a lawsuit in federal court. 

“We're talking about a diet that 35 states and the federal government provide in their prison systems,” says attorney Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund, which is working on behalf of Jewish inmates.

He says the cost, $3.55 per day per observant Jewish prisoner, is not much for the Florida Department of Corrections.

“We're talking about two-tenths of one percent of a $3 billion budget to protect fundamental human rights for prisoners in Florida," he tells OneNewsNow.

A lower court ordered the prisons to serve kosher meals but the case then went to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Blomberg says justices raised serious questions.

“When the court pressed them and said, You're doing this now. Can you show me any actual harms that you have proven result from providing this diet? Can you show me this on this record? Florida was not able to do that,” the attorney says.  “Florida wasn't able to point to a single solitary problem that resulted from providing these diets to Jewish prisoners.”

The appeals court decision should come in the next two months.

UPDATE (July 15, 2016) ...

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Jewish inmates in state prisons lose some rights when they are sent to prison, but religious freedom isn't one of them.

Attorney Diana Verm of the Becket Fund, which filed a friend of the court brief, tells AFN the court issued a ruling in two days, rather than the typical six to eight weeks.

"The court must have prepared something in advance, we think because Florida's arguments that they couldn't provide kosher meals to their Jewish prisoners were so poor," Verm explains.

Florida's advocates understood clearly the court rejected the cost issue, because it was only two-tenths of one percent of the budget.

"They realized in court, based on the judge's questions, that they didn't have a strong argument," says the attorney.

Especially when the Department of Justice pointed out that the prison system provided Halal meals to Muslim prisoners – which is a similar diet – special diets for diabetics, meals to meet other medical needs, and for vegans. So the court ruled that Jewish inmates' religious rights were violated.

"Prisoners lose many of their physical rights when they go to prison," Verm concludes, "but they don't lose their human dignity – and they don't lose their right to worship."

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

What's your reaction to Trump's proposal to slash in half U.S. contributions to the U.N.?

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Health care bill clears procedural hurdle
Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline
Former Trump aide offers to talk to House panel
  Maryland governor vows to veto sanctuary bill
  UK police give details of London attacker, make more arrests

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Cops given pass for shooting innocent man in his own apartment
College ‘Diversity Council’ admits to posting fake racist flyers on campus
Study finds college rioters have wealthier parents than average student
Illinois preschooler suspended over ‘spent .22 caliber bullet casing’
The Obama plot to sabotage Trump

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day

REASON & COMPANY

NEXT STORY
NY challenged on interfering in Tar Heel State

gender confusion 1Liberals are continuing to hammer North Carolina for protecting women and children in state law.