Florida Prison Halts Kosher Meals for Jewish Inmates, Halal Meals for Muslims

Thursday, August 23, 2007

MIAMI  —  Jewish inmates who follow strict religious diets at Florida prisons are no longer provided meals in line with their beliefs. Muslims must now eat vegan food to satisfy their religious requirements.

[Well excuse me, I thought that when one commits a crime and is sentenced to serve time in prison I didn’t think it was meant to treat them with respect and honor their requests as to special needs when it comes to meals based on religion.  Why is it once in prison they suddenly decide they are religious and demand special treatment.  If they were that religious to begin with why then were they in prison?  Can you imagine catering meals based on every personal faith of each prisoner?  It’s ludicrous to even think to put a plan like that in effect would make sense let alone be cost effective.  

I remember a few years back reading how the prisoners here in Florida were upset because they pulled the plug on their cable TV meaning they no longer had access to the HBO stations.  I thought damn, I personally can’t afford HBO yet my tax money was paying for prisoners to have TV privileges that I couldn’t afford myself.   

Anyway, when I read the following article I thought here we go again!!  Is it just me or what?…..flagranny2]

The Corrections Department has ended the Jewish Dietary Accommodation Program, which provided kosher meals to not only Jews, but to Muslims as well, because the state prison system does not offer halal food. Cost — and fairness — were cited as factors.

“We have 100 faiths represented by DOC inmates, so it would be impossible to satisfy everyone’s preferences and unfair to do it for one group and not another,” agency spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said. “We just have to look at what our mission is and what’s best for our overall department and the overall population of inmates in our system instead of a smaller group.”

The department has suspended use of pork products in an attempt to appease religious adherents and will continue to serve vegetarian and vegan meals. It said many Jews and Muslims could choose the vegan option, which is free of any animal products, to adhere to their faiths.

But for the strict followers of kosher and halal diets, it is far from ideal.

Rabbi Jack Romberg of Temple Israel in Tallahassee, who was a member of a group that reviewed religious dietary accommodations in prisons, noted that unless the vegan food is prepared separately from other meals, it would not satisfy kosher law. Ahmed Bedier of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa said vegan food would meet the religious requirements of those who follow a halal diet, but would cause undue hardship.  [Full Story]