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Threat of Lawsuit Pushes Florida to Allow Circumcision of Jewish Prisoners

With the help from students at the Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic, Pablo Manuel Diaz, 37, became the first Florida prisoner to be circumcised while incarcerated.

Diaz who is serving a life sentence at Blackwater River Correctional Facility, was born in Cuba to Jewish parents. Fear of political persecution kept them from having him circumcised as an infant. In prison, Diaz began practicing his faith.

His requests to be circumcised were denied to prison officials. After that, the Stanford law students began representing him and threatened to sue the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) for violating Diaz’s rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized persons Act (RLUIPA).

Typically, prisons have to set defenses when defending RLUIPA claims. “First, expense of the requested accommodation, and second, safety,” Stanford law student Courtney Quiros wrote the South Florida Jewish Journal. In Diaz’s case, “The prison doesn’t seem to have, nor has it attempted to make either argument. They are just flatly refusing.”

Facing the threat of litigation, FDOC relented. On October 2, Brit Yosef Yitzchak, an organization that has performed more than 40,000 circumcisions around the world, sent a mohel from New York to perform Diaz’s circumcision at no charge.

Diaz “seemed to have made a sincere commitment to his Judaism,” said Rabbi Aryeh Wuench, of Brit Yosef Yitchak’s Miami office. “He was so happy that he now had a bris and could pray on Shabbos with a clean conscience.”

Quiros and her collegus were “overjoyed” about the circumcision. “We were thrilled to be able to play a small part in helping him fulfill his religious beliefs,” she said.


Source: Sun Sentinel

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