Sunday, March 29, 2009

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases and Developments

In Smith v. Frank, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22848 (ED WI, March 20, 2009), a Wisconsin federal district court rejected a Native American inmate's claim that his rights under RLUIPA were violated when a eagle feather he possessed was confiscated and eventually inadvertently destroyed.

In Spence v. Frank, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23095 (ED WI, March 23, 2009), a Wisconsin federal district court rejected an inmate's RLUIPA claim, finding that he was not punished because he called his social worker by her spiritual name, Morning Dove, but rather was punished because he wrote her letters telling her that he loved her and calling her "Smurf".

In Colquitt v. Ellegood, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23305 (MD FL, March 20, 2009), a Florida federal magistrate judge rejected an inmate's claim that his free exercise rights were violated when the copy of a Quran furnished to him in jail had too small print and the jail rejected a larger print version purchased for the inmate by his wife and mailed from

In Taylor v. Grannis, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23311 (ND CA, March 12, 2009), a California federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with claims under RLUIPA that he was improperly denied permission to have tobacco products for a religious ceremony.

The Maryland Daily Record reported last week that Maryland prisons plan to begin offering kosher meals to observant Jewish prisoners. The program will start in time for Passover next month. Two cases are currently in the courts claiming that Maryland officials had refused to accommodate prisoners' requests for kosher diets.