Becket defends Jewish prisoners in Florida seeking kosher meals State must honor religious rights of all prisoners
Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, Becket argued that federal law compels Florida to provide kosher meals to Jewish prisoners. Florida is the only large prison system in the country that still wants to force Jewish prisoners to eat non-kosher food.
“Prisoners surrender many of their physical rights at the jailhouse door, but they do not surrender the fundamental right of conscience,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel at Becket. “Every large prison system in the country provides kosher meals to Jewish prisoners; it is past time for Florida to do the same.”
Florida claims that providing kosher meals is too expensive to be required by federal law. However, at least 35 states and the federal government provide prisoners with kosher meals while remaining within their budgets. Florida also provides a variety of more expensive, specialized diets to meet the medical needs of its prisoners.
Becket has sued Florida over the denial of kosher meals twice—first in 2002, then in 2012. Both times it received a favorable result on behalf of one observant prisoner. This latest lawsuit was filed by the United States on behalf of all observant prisoners. A federal district court ordered Florida to begin providing kosher meals for all observant inmates last year, and Florida has appealed. Today Becket, represented by the global law firm Jones Day, filed an amicus brief urging the protection of the religious rights of all prisoners.
“Protecting religious freedom in prison reduces prison violence and makes prisoners less likely to commit crimes after their release,” said Goodrich. “Forcing Jewish prisoners to violate the centuries-old commands of their faith is the height of bureaucratic foolishness.”
In addition to its successful suits against Florida, Becket has won kosher meal cases against Georgia and Texas, and has assisted in a similar victory against Indiana. Becket has never lost a case when suing a prison system over the denial of kosher meals.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.349.7224. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more).