Prisoner free exercise cases – February 27, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Heyer v. U.S. Bureau of  Prisons, (4th Cir., Feb. 23, 2017), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a deaf inmate to move ahead with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by failure to provide him a sign-language interpreter for religious services.

In Crowder v. Lariva, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23687 (SD IN, Feb. 21, 2017), an Indiana federal district court held that a prison chaplain who was sued by a Hebrew-Israelite inmate demonstrated that there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether the denial of plaintiff’s requests for a kosher diet substantially burdened his right to practice his religion because he continued to purchase non-kosher items from the commissary.

In Pruitt v. Williams, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25044 (ED AR, Feb. 23, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25468, Feb. 2, 2017) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that as a form of punishment he was denied the right to practice his religion.

In Ali v. Haese, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25431 (ED WI, Feb. 23, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed on his claim that he was denied participation in the 2016 Ramadan fast, but not due process and retaliation claims added in his amended complaint.