Dec. 15, 2023 By Rachel Butler
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill sponsored by Queens State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, from Brooklyn, into law on Wednesday that now requires correctional facilities to provide food options that meet special religious dietary requirements.
Previously, incarcerated individuals of certain faiths, such as Islam and Judaism, were not provided with food options in correctional facilities that meet the dietary requirements of their respective religion. With the signing of the bill, all prisons are now required to provide Halal and Kosher food options at vending machines and commissary areas at the request of inmates.
Ramos, who represents Jackson Heights and surrounding areas, said that she believes that recognizing the inmates’ religion provides them with respect they deserve, a key factor in their rehabilitation.
“Denying Jewish people in prison access to kosher foods is an added and targeted punishment, one that Gov. Hochul is helping to correct by signing my bill with Assemblymember Eichenstein. I’d like to thank our local rabbis and faith leaders for their vocal and continued support of these efforts as we turn our attention to ensuring the same access is extended to public schools,” she said.
Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, president of the Tzedek Association, said that the governor’s signing of the bill comes at a special time, as Chanukah is being celebrated.
“Thank you Assemblyman Eichenstein and State Sen. Ramos for remembering the forgotten population, correcting an issue with this bill that frankly should have already been policy,” he said.
Eichenstein thanked Ramos for sponsoring the legislation and Hochul for signing it into law.