Prisoner free exercise cases – March 6, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Shehee v. Ahlin, (9th Cir., Feb. 27, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a civil detainee’s complaint regarding problems in connection with a requested religious diet.

In Sariaslan v. Rackley,(9th Cir., Feb. 28, 2017), the 9th Circuit held that the district court had overlooked a Muslim inmate’s allegations that he was blocked without good cause from receiving food that he purchased for Ramadan.

In Herbert v. Balducci, (9th Cir., March 1, 2017), the 9th Circuit affirmed dismissal of an inmate’s First Amendment claims related to the denial of Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book while in disciplinary segregation.

In Register v. Helder, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26006 (WD AR, Feb/ 24, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26909, Feb 2, 2017), and dismissed an inmate’s complaint regarding his desire to be baptized by a Jehovah’s Witness.

In Rolph v. Richardson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27534 (D MD, Feb. 28. 2017), a Maryland federal district court held that a Jewish inmate’s religoius rights were not violated when he was required to provide the name of his Rabbi and synagogue to be approved for a kosher diet.

In Cherry v. Corizon Health, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27654 (SD IN, Feb. 28, 2017), an Indiana federal district court rejected an inmate’s complaint that his rights were violated when he was forced to receive injections of antipsychotic medication because he was on a religious fast. The court found that he had not shown that refusing 20 consecutive meals, thereby endangering his health, was a practice of his religion.

In Jones v. West, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27880 (ED WI, Feb. 27, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court ruled that a Muslim inmate needed to file an amended complaint over a change in sign-up policy for Ramadan meals.

In Mueller v. Mesojedec, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27414 (D MN, Feb. 27, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28119, Jan. 6, 2017) and dismissed without prejudice claims by civilly committed sex offenders that their ability to practice their Asatru faith in various ways was impeded.

In Carawan v. Mitchell, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28832 (D NC, Feb. 28, 2017), a North Carolina federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that prison authorities refused to set up a zakat fund so he could practice charity.

In Berger v. Burl, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27708 (ED AR, Feb. 28, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28760, Jan. 19, 2017), finding that questions of fact remain as to an inmate’s claims that allowing beards and long hair for religious but not secular reasons violated the Establishment Clause, and allowing long hair only for female inmates denied him equal protection.