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US Sues Florida for Halting Kosher Meals

The federal government is suing Florida's Department of Corrections for not offering kosher meals to prison inmates.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 8/20/2012, 12:41 PM

kosher plastic pot lid saying "Kosher Keepers"
kosher plastic pot lid saying "Kosher Keepers"
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The U.S. federal government is suing Florida's Department of Corrections for not offering kosher meals to prison inmates.

In the lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court, federal officials state that by refusing to offer kosher meals, the state "forces hundreds of its prisoners to violate their core religious beliefs on a daily basis," the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The Justice Department claims that Florida is violating a federal law protecting prisoners' ability to worship.

Until 2007, prisoners who wanted kosher meals were assigned to one of 13 facilities, where about 250 at a time opted for meals prepared under Jewish dietary guidelines, Reuters reported.

The Justice Department lawsuit asserts that maintaining a kosher diet is a fundamental tenet of Judaism and other religions practiced by Florida prisoners.

"By refusing to offer kosher meals, the Florida Department of Corrections forces hundreds of its prisoners to violate their core religious beliefs on a daily basis," it said, according to Reuters.

The Justice Department said the federal prisons and those in most other states do offer kosher meals to all prisoners with a religious basis for keeping kosher.

The lawsuit notes that under the previous program, about 250 prisoners received kosher meals.