Prisoner free exercise cases – March 14, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robinson v. Superintendent Houtzdale SCI, (3d Cir., March 6, 2017), the 3rd Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was unable to participate in the sex offender’s treatment program because it requires him to “confess” to a therapist, and as a Christian the Bible only permits him to confess to God.

In Adams v. Scott, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28966 (CD IL, March 1, 2017), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a complaint by several civilly committed individuals that their nondenominational Christian religious beliefs were not accommodated.

In Carawan v. McLarty, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29485 (ED NC, March 2, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when authorities confiscated his mail which contained postage stamps donated to him by Muslim inmates practicing zakat.

In Ayers v. Esgrow, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30124 (WD NY, March 1, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that a correctional officer vindictively seized his personal religious property, removed him from his religious clerk position and filed a falsified misbehavior report against him.

In Barros v. Wetzel, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30498 (MD PA, March 2, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that authorities refused to provide him with a medically prescribed therapeutic diet tray during the Ramadan fast.