Prisoner free exercise cases – December 16, 2012

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Schreane v. Seana, (3d Cir., Dec. 13, 2012), the 3rd Circuit upheld the dismissal of a claim by an inmate that his 1st Amendment free exercise rights were violated when his religious oils were lost, misplaced, or stolen during his confinement in the Special Handling Unit.

In Rentz v. Borem, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175729 (SD CA, Dec. 11, 2012), a California federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his 1st Amendment free exercise claim that a correctional officer confiscated his prayer oil.

In Adeyemi v. Murphy, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175081 (D CT, Dec. 11, 2012), a Connecticut federal district court held that an inmate’s claims that his religious pamphlets and newspapers, along with other specified documents, were confiscated did not allege a violation of his free exercise of RLUIPA rights.

In Mitchell v. New York State Department of Correctional Services, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176209 (WD NY, Dec. 12, 2012), a New York federal district court dismissed claims by a Nation of Islam inmate that the Department of Corrections failed to accommodate his religious diet, that he was denied two Eid festival meals, and that inmates are are allowed to attend services of a religion in which they are not registered only three times per year.

In Deaton v. Arkansas Department of Corrections, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174598 (ED AR, Dec. 10, 2012), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174602, (Oct. 15, 2012) and dismissed claims by an inmate who refused to cut his hair for religious reasons. Plaintiff contended that the Department of Corrections’ grooming policy violates his rights under the free exercise clause and RLUIPA.

In Lomax v. Straughn, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175910 (ED AR, Dec. 12, 2012), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175924, Oct. 16, 2012) and dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were violated when, while he was being held for 3 days on behavior control, he had no access to religious items.