Sunday, January 01, 2012

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Shaw v. Parker, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148286 (D DE, Dec. 27, 2011), a Delaware federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that his rosary beads had been confiscated, finding that the strength of the cord posed a security threat. They were returned and then retaken. The court ordered plaintiff why the complaint about this should not be dismissed for non-prosecution.

In Hennis v. Tedrow, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148316 (WD PA, Dec. 27, 2011), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed 8th Amendment and equal protection claims by a Rastafarian inmate who claims he was ordered to cut his dreadlocks and that he was denied religiously-mandated vegetarian meals during a 2-day lock down.

In Johnson v. Williams, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148445 (D OR, Dec. 22, 2011), an Oregon federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that the Establishment clause was violated by prison authorities' refusal to recognize Satanism as a religion. It also rejected a claim that his free exercise rights and his rights under RLUIPA were infringed when he was not permitted to possess The Satanic Bible. The court also upheld disciplining plaintiff for sending out White supremacist Nazi drawings.

In Smith v. Mohr, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148579 (ND OH, Dec. 21, 2011), plaintiff is a Jewish prisoner who has purchased kosher meals from the commissary because he dislikes the prison's kosher meals. An Ohio federal district court rejected his claims that his rights were infringed when, after he was sent to the segregation unit for conduct offenses, he was denied access to the commissary or food stored in his cell and was limited to the prison's kosher meals.

In Abdul-Aziz v. Ricci, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149163 (D NJ, Dec. 28, 2011), a New Jersey federal district court rejected an inmate's complaint that his rights were violated when prison authorities did not accept donated Halal meals with meat, and did not allow Islamic inmates to retain prayer oils in their cells. The court also found no evidence that the prison's vegetarian meals are contaminated with meat products.