The unfortunate reality of the world we live in is that people are oftentimes discriminated against for a host of reasons. One form of discrimination that you might face as a prison inmate is religious discrimination. There are certain laws in place in the United States and in the state of Connecticut to protect all citizens from religious discrimination, including those who are spending time in correctional facilities. On this page, I will discuss some of the common religious discrimination issues that prison inmates may face, when this discrimination is unconstitutional, and what you can do to get help.
Religious Rights in Prison
In order to determine if you have experienced religious discrimination in prison, you first need to understand what your religious rights are as an inmate in a correctional facility.
Keep in mind that federal law establishes protection for inmates’ religious rights. If a prison rule impedes your ability to practice your religion, the prison staff need to prove that this rule is necessary for other important reasons in the prison, such as the overall health or safety of the inmates. If the prison staff cannot prove this, they will have to establish accommodations so that you can practice your religion.
In many cases, the prison that you are in may be required to provide you with specific religious services, access to religious leaders, or a religious diet. You may also be able to keep religious texts in prison or have access to them through the prison. You could also be allowed to wear religious jewelry or clothing and be allowed to partake in religious-based grooming practices.
Finally, keep in mind that just as a prison can’t deny you your ability to practice your religion, they also cannot impose a religion on you. If you do not want to participate in religious events or activities, they cannot force you or punish you for not attending. Correctional facility workers also cannot give special treatment to those who follow a certain religion or treat those who follow a certain religion poorly based on their own religious beliefs or biases.
Getting Help With a Rights Violation
If you feel that you have been discriminated against in prison because of your religious beliefs, you can file a complaint. File a complaint with the Special Litigation Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
It is also a good idea to contact a civil rights attorney to assist you with this process. A civil rights attorney can determine if the prison indeed violated your religious rights, or if they had a legitimate and legal reason to act the way that they did. This can help you determine if you want to go forward with a complaint or try to file a lawsuit, or if you do not have a strong case.
At our office, we handle civil rights cases as well as religious discrimination issues. As such, we can assist you with your situation and help you determine the best way to proceed given the specifics of your case. We are happy to help, simply contact our office and we can set up a free consultation to talk more about your situation and your options.