Prisoner free exercise cases – February 15, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Banks v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, (3d Cir., Feb. 9, 2015), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Muslim inmate’s challenge to prison policies on participation in feasts of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and to the use of prayer oils during religious services.

In Harris v. Pimentel, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15338 (ED CA, Feb. 9, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended refusing to strike an inmate’s complaint that his cell was searched and his Qur’an kicked under the bed, defiled with a boot mark.

In Richardson v. Cheshire County, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15903 (D NH, Feb. 6, 2015), a New Hampshire federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15902, Jan. 14, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding the meals he received during Ramadan.


In Abdulkarim v. Metropolitan Sheriff Department, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16609 (MD TN, Feb. 11, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his claim that his jail will not provide religious services for Muslim inmates.


In Woodside-Fisher v. Pulley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17319 (WD CA, Feb. 12, 2015), a California federal district court, adopting a magistrate’s recommendation, dismissed an inmate’s complaint that his food was tampered with because it was a halal food tray, his non-halal tray was not replaced on 3 occasions, an officer made remarks about his religion, and on one occasion he did not have time for a shower because he was praying.

In Gamble v. Kenworthy, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17587 (ED NC, Feb. 12, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that control status inmates were not allowed to receive special food from outside the institution for Eid al Fitr.

In Scheeler v. Lehigh County Prison, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17781 (ED PA, Feb. 12, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to his Bible while in the Restricted Housing Unit for 9 days.