Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nebraska Cuts Back On Religious Accommodation of Inmates

As reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, on June 2, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services issued a Memo (full text) cutting back on its accommodation of religious practices of inmates in a manner that appears to particularly impact Native American practitioners.  According to the Memo, many Native American practitioners also practice Catholicism at the same time, requesting a Native American Bandanna and a Rosary.  Under the Memo, an inmate must declare a single religion in order to receive religious property (or declare he is spiritual but has no religious tradition). As of November 1, inmate purchases of religious items will be limited to the 26 items listed in an Appendix to the Memo. Inmates will be required to store their religious property in a 6 quart plastic storage box that they must purchase for $1.65. The state will end its policy of providing $50 per year to each accommodated religion, and will no longer provide rock and wood for sweat lodge ceremonies. Rock and wood will be available only through outside donations. Last year the state reduced from 2 hours to 1 hour per week the time Native American inmates can spend in sweat lodge ceremonies.