Court Victory for Kosher Meals in Florida Prisons State must protect prisoners’ religious exercise
Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. – After spending over a decade arbitrarily trying to deny kosher meals to religious prisoners, the Florida Department of Corrections was ordered by a federal court to provide them. The court, which issued its opinion on April 30, also rejected Florida’s weak arguments regarding budgetary concerns, noting that most major prison systems already offer the meals, and told Florida that it had failed to present any evidence that its prison system was different than any other.
“Federal law protects all Americans from arbitrary restrictions of their religious practice. This includes prisoners,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel of Becket. “Today, there is one less arbitrary restriction on religious freedom.”
The court opinion relied heavily on previous Becket victories, including Rich v. Buss, Moussazadeh v. TDCJ, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling just three months ago in Holt v. Hobbs.
“Prisoners lose many of their physical rights at the jailhouse door, but they do not lose their basic right of conscience,” said Goodrich. “Florida’s own research has shown that protecting religious freedom for prisoners reduces prison violence and saves taxpayers money.”
Becket has sued the state of Florida over its denial of a kosher diet for religiously observant inmates twice—first in 2002, then in 2012. Both times it received a favorable result on behalf of a Jewish prisoner. This latest lawsuit was filed by the United States Department of Justice on behalf of all observant prisoners. In addition to its successful suits against Florida, Becket has won kosher diet 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 a kosher diet.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at email@example.com or 202.349.7224.
Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”