Prisoner free exercise cases – August 30, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Aziz v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111862 (ND CA, Aug. 21, 2015), a California federal district court permitted inmates to move ahead with their complaint that correctional officers would not allow Muslim inmates to pray in groups larger than four, despite a contrary ruling by the Religious Review Committee.

In Sioleski v. Sullivan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111827 (WD NY, Aug. 24, 2015), a New York federal district court denied an inmate’s motion for reconsideration of his previously dismissed complaint that on one occasion officials harassed him about his Native American hairstyle and placed him in keeplock for an hour while they decided whether his hairstyle complied with Department of Corrections rules.

In Peters v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113380, Charles v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113378, Cascen v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113379, and Blyden v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113377, (WD VA, Aug. 26, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed complaints by Rastafarian inmates who were housed in the Violators Housing Unit for violating grooming regulations that they was not allowed to participate in Rastafarian group religious services outside the VHU pod.  In Blyden the court dismissed the additional complaint that while Rastafarian services are now available in the VHU, they lack a spiritual leader or reading material.

In Salyers v. Blue, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114243 (WD KY, Aug. 27, 2015), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an Orthodox Christian inmate’s complaint that while in isolation for protective custody, he was not allowed to participate in group religious functions with other inmates.

In Greybuffalo v. Wall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114381 (WD WI, Aug. 28, 2015), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Native American inmate’s request to have religious feasts at the conclusion religious ceremonies.

In Bargo v. Kelley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114610 (ED AR, Aug. 28, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114614, Aug. 5, 2015) and permitted an inmate who is a practitioner of the Hindu Kriya/Raja Yoga to move ahead with his claim for injunctive relief. He is seeking use of the barracks day room and chapel, and a Yoga mat, to practice Yoga.