Fairfax inmate gets religious practice rights back with my advocacy
Fairfax inmate religious rights can be argued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Fairfax inmate — and all inmate — religious rights do not stop at the jailhouse door. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I successfully took that argument right to the county detention center authorities when obtaining authorization for my client to return to covering his hair with a turban — albeit a smaller one than he wears outside of jail — where such covering is essential for his religious practices. This blog entry provides a general roadmap for utilizing the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to argue for the preservation and protection of practices for inmates of any religion, running from how they dress, eat, pray and otherwise practice their religion.
Obtaining religious practice rights for a Fairfax inmate through talking basic sense rather than needing any confrontational language
As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that a non-confrontational approach often achieves much more for criminal defendants — including Fairfax inmate and other inmate religious practice rights and opportunities — than acting like a confrontational wild horse who has just been let through the starting gate. The crux of my successful argument to permit my client to wear a turban included: Clearly, any blanket ban on religious headwear at the Fairfax jail (and contraband can be hidden in an inmate’s pants as much as under a turban) would not jibe with the United States Constitution’s First Amendment Free Exercise Clause nor the RLUIPA, specifically at 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000cc-1, providing in pertinent part that: “No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution [defined in pertinent part as a jail or correctional facility]… even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” Id. The Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the Constitutionality of the RLUIPA’s protections for inmates. Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709 (2005).
Ask your Virginia criminal defense lawyer, ACLU or Justice Department for help protecting your religious practices as a Fairfax inmate or inmate at another institution
In 2011, the United States Justice Department intervened on behalf of a Sikh-practicing California state inmate who was punished for refusing to trim his beard on religious grounds. Basra v. Cate, et al., C.D.C. No. 2:11-cv-01676 (see ACLU’s complaint). This lawsuit led to a settlement in 2011 allowing inmates to have beards in accordance with their religious faith. Here, in the absence of a Fairfax jail written justification for and written prohibition against inmates wearing such religious headgear as turbans, the Fairfax County government all the more has not met the RLUIPA mandate that the government “demonstrate that imposition of the burden on [the inmate] (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000cc-1. This and my above arguments led to this Fairfax inmate getting his right to wear a turban.
Does the RLUIPA protect my access to religious texts as an inmate?
Jails routinely make Christian bibles available to inmates, but inmates following other religious paths should have reasonable access to the texts of their faith. For one of my Fairfax inmate clients, we resolved any security concerns about smuggling contraband into the jail via a religious text, by arranging for the texts to be ordered through Amazon.com and delivered to the jail chaplain.
Do I as a Virginia jail inmate have the right to kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan food?
Those who are vegetarian or vegan for other than religious grounds do not have a right under the RLUIPA to such food as a Fairfax inmate or other inmate. For those eating vegetarian or vegan for religious reasons, RLUIPA can come to their rescue, just as with kosher and halal food.
If I am a presumed-innocent jail inmate denied pretrial release, why should my religious freedom be hampered merely because I am behind bars?
The RLUIPA protects the religious freedom both of inmates awaiting trial and those who have already been convicted. If your religious exercise rights are not being protected in jail or prison, ask your criminal defense lawyer, ACLU and sometimes even the United States Justice Department for help.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz advocates for your best defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person confidential consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.