Scottish prisoners request kosher meals believing they are ‘nicer’

(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, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

“Where previously we have always had a very minimal Jewish prison population we have seen a huge rise,” prison spokesman Tom Fox said.

Prison officials believe the inmates think the kosher meals are “nicer.”

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“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 much 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.”

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.