Florida is struggling to comply with a judge’s decision that all prison inmates who request kosher meals must be provided with them.
The plan is being met with higher demand than expected, in a state where Gov. Rick Scott already pledged to cut prison costs by $1 billion dollars.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that while the prison system estimated 300 inmates would request the kosher meals in a pilot program, they instead received requests from almost 4,500. The kosher food costs $4 a day, while regular prison food only costs about $1.50. The state corrections secretary said most of those requesting the meals are not Jews.
Kosher food in prison is often regarded as far superior to normal prison fare, and can even be traded like currency. The Times article points out that Florida prison meals are heavy on a “meat supplement” known as textured vegetable protein, or TVP.
While some headlines proclaim that the state is “going broke” over the kosher meals, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The cost of the meals would be around $18,000. Even with additional expenses for “microwaves” and “boxes,” this is a far cry from the multi-million dollar deficit the system is currently running.
Florida currently ranks seventh in the nation in incarceration, imprisoning about 0.5 percent of its population. The US is number one in the world for incarceration rate.