The Florida Department of Corrections agreed to serve kosher food to Jewish inmates, ending a five-year struggle that included a Justice Department lawsuit against the state.
The Florida Department of Corrections cancelled its kosher food program in state prisons in August 2007. At the time there were at an estimated 250 prisoners in Florida were enrolled in the kosher meal program.
However, a Justice Department complaint filed last year accused Florida of impinging on the rights of Jewish inmates by failing to offer kosher food, citing a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 which protects prisoners' freedom of worship.
The Chabad-Lubavitch Aleph Institute, which serves the interests of Jewish inmates and soldiers around the nation, praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s strong advocacy on behalf of the observant inmates.
“The Jewish community would like to thank governor Rick Scott profusely for arranging that kosher food will be available to Jewish inmates in Florida," said Rabbi Menachem Katz of the Aleph Institute.
"This is a major milestone,” said Katz. “"Our great country was founded on the principle of freedom to worship and we thank the governor for his appreciation of this fundamental ideal.”
“[O]bserving one's faith goes a long way in rehabilitating inmates and integrating them back into society as law-abiding citizens," he added.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in Texas ruled that a Jewish man imprisoned for murder should be served kosher food, enabling him to maintain his religious beliefs as an orthodox Jew.