that there appears to have been a dramatic increase in Jewish prisoners at Washington State prisons, based on food requests at these institutions. The evidence: in 2011 approximately 1 percent of the inmates requested special kosher meals. But now, 2 years later, almost 11 percent of inmates are requesting them.
Federal law requires that the state honors religious dietary requests. The problem is that the kosher meals are more expensive than normal meals — $6.80 more expensive per day, for each request. However, "experts are dubious of some prisoners' sincerity." That is, they doubt all these prisoners really are Jewish.
Gary Friedman, a former Jewish corrections chaplain and "a leading authority on dietary rules and regulations in the United States corrections system," theorizes that the prisoners have figured out a way to get what they think is safer, better food:
"The primary motivation is, they think it's safer. I can't count how many times it's happened, how many times it has come up, that you hear stories how (jails) buy food that is out of date or how inmate workers are tainting the food. So they think (kosher meals) are safer and it is of better quality."
Prisons can't deny the requests outright. So what they're doing instead is monitoring the behavior of the prisoners outside of the food hall — observing what items they purchase from the prison store and what they barter for. If the prisoners are caught engaging in non-Jewish behavior, their kosher food privileges are revoked.