(JTA) — More than 100 inmates in a Scottish prison have signed up to receive kosher meals, despite the fact that there were officially nine Jewish prisoners in Scottish jails from 2013-1014.
An official at Glenochil Prison in Clackmannanshire in Scotland said the prison must provide the kosher meals to the prisoners if they claim to have converted to Judaism.
“Where previously we have always had a very minimal Jewish prison population we have seen a huge rise,” prison spokesman Tom Fox said, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
Prison officials believe the inmates think the kosher meals are “nicer.”
“I don’t think the prisoners themselves understand the preparation that has to go into providing a kosher meal,” Fox said.
The meals are outsourced since the prison does not have a kosher kitchen. The meals cost significantly more than regular prison fare.
“I think there is the assumption that by identifying as a particular religion, that you will get you better food in prison but that is not always the case,” Fox said. “And we have to do what we have to do; if someone says they are a particular religion we are not allowed to question that.”
Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities director, said the prison authorities have consulted with his group and rabbinic authorities, although “the underlying issue is simply that [the prison’s] own regulations do not allow them to question the veracity of religious claims made by prisoners,” according to the Jewish Telegraph.
In July, the state of Florida appealed a 2015 decision by a Miami judge requiring kosher food for anyone who requests it, including Jews, Muslims, Seventh-day Adventists and people of other faiths, accounting for about 10,000 — or 10 percent — of all inmates.
The kosher meals program is estimated to cost the Florida Department of Corrections $12.3 million a year.