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Responding to lawsuit, Florida to offer kosher food in all prisons

(Creative Commons)

(Creative Commons)

(JTA) — The Florida Department of Corrections will offer kosher meals in its state prisons by the end of the year.

The kosher food service is slated to begin in July at a large institution in northern Florida, and will expand to 60 corrections facilities throughout the state by the end of 2013, James Upchurch, assistant Department of Corrections secretary for institutions, told a hearing in federal court on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

Upchurch was responding to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in South Florida regarding the availability of kosher food in the correctional institutions.

The U.S. Justice Department has asked the judge in the case to issue a kosher food order to ensure that the policy remains in place, according to the AP.

Bruce Rich, Bruce Rich Kosher

Inmate Bruce Rich. (Florida Department of Corrections)

In May, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said that inmate Bruce Rich could sue for kosher meals, which had been eliminated as part of cost-cutting measures.

An average of 250 inmates used the kosher meal service, including Muslims, AP reported last year. The state now offers vegetarian and vegan options.

At least 35 states and the federal government provide kosher diets in prison.

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