Enforcing Religious Freedom in Prison   [open pdf - 2MB]

"The United States Commission on Civil Rights transmits this report, Enforcing Religious Freedom in Prison, pursuant to Public Law 103-419. The report examines government efforts to enforce federal civil rights laws prohibiting religious discrimination in the administration and management of federal and state prisons. To that end, the Commission reviewed federal and state laws and regulations applicable to inmates' religious observances and examined the roles of prison administrators in safeguarding prisoners' religious rights. It also examined the roles of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the judiciary in enforcing and interpreting the law regarding prisoners' free exercise rights. The findings indicate that the percentage of prisoners professing non-Christian faiths tends to be larger than their proportions within the non-incarcerated adult population in the United States aged 18 and older. These inmates are more likely than others to file complaints about free exercise limitations; however, religious grievances make up a very small proportion of all grievances filed in prisons. [...]. The Commission also found that prison and inmate security, and lack of resources, are cited as the key reasons for any restrictions placed on inmates' religious exercise. The Commission recommends that prison officials pay particular attention to ensuring that inmates of minority faiths are not having their free-exercise rights unduly burdened, and that prison ministries and prisoners' rights advocacy organizations should work to enhance the availability of professional legal representation for inmates."

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University of Maryland, Thurgood Marshall Law Library: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/
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