Florida inmate Pablo Manuel Diaz, serving a life sentence in a Blackwater Correctional Facility in Milton, Florida for manslaughter, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and kidnapping, has submitted a request to the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) that he be circumcised by a mohel in the prison’s infirmary. Diaz, whose mother is Jewish, reportedly has been active in the Jewish prison ministry. Brit Yosef Yitzchak, an organization that has performed 50,000 circumcisions across the world, has offered to circumcise Diaz free of charge. This is Diaz’s second request for a bris; his first request was denied by the warden.
In his second request for a bris, Diaz is being represented by law students from Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic, recently formed to “offer participating students a dynamic, real-world experience representing a diverse group of clients in disputes arising from a wide range of religious beliefs, practices, and customs in a variety of circumstances.” The Clinic also represents religious organizations in zoning disputes. Learn more about Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic here and here.
Diaz is awaiting a response from the DOC regarding his request. The DOC may think twice about denying Diaz’s request, as it is currently being sued by another inmate who was denied kosher meals in the case Rich v. Florida Department of Corrections, No. 12-11735 (11th Cir. 2013). The inmate in that case is serving a life sentence for murdering his parents. Here is more information about that case http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/05/15/man-who-murdered-parents-wins-kosher-diet-suit/. The official decision of the Eleventh Circuit in Rich v. Florida DOC is available at http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/201211735.pdf.
If Diaz’s request is denied, it is conceivable, if not likely, that he would commence litigation under RLUIPA and/or the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion in pursuit of a circumcision, a sincerely-held religious belief in the Jewish faith. See Genesis 17:10-14 (“Every male among you shall be circumcised.”). You can read more about Diaz’s request for a circumcision at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/florida-jewish-journal/news/palm-beach-county-news/fl-jjps-circumcision-0612-20130611,0,7702040.story.
Click here to see Pablo Manuel Diaz’s mug shot.