JTA — The Florida Department of Corrections agreed to serve kosher food to its Jewish inmates.
The decision announced last week comes five years after the state’s Department of Corrections canceled its kosher meal program.
In August 2012, the US government sued the corrections department in federal district court in Miami for ending its kosher meal service, saying the current meal policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 that allows prisoners to worship according to their religious beliefs. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 inmates.
An average of 250 inmates used the kosher meal service, including Muslims, The Associated Press reported last year. The state now offers vegetarian and vegan options.
A state religious dietary study group had advised the state not to end the kosher meal program, saying that the inmates “may either eat the non-kosher food and fail to obey his religious laws or not eat the non-kosher food and starve.” The expense of providing the kosher meals came to about $146,000 a year, according to the committee.
The Chabad-Lubavitch Aleph Institute, which advocates on behalf of Jewish inmates and soldiers in the US, praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott for advocating on behalf of the inmates.