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NCJ Number: 230215 Find in a Library
Title: How RLUIPA Affects Your Agency
Journal: Corrections Today  Volume:71  Issue:6  Dated:December 2009  Pages:96-97
Author(s): Christopher Mitchell; Joan Kennedy
Date Published: December 2009
Page Count: 2
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the provisions and implementation of the Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
Abstract: Section 3 of RLUIPA, entitled Protection of Religious Exercise of Institutionalized Persons, prohibits State governments from imposing a substantial burden on an inmate's exercise of religion unless prison officials can show that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. As a result, State and Federal courts have defined "religious exercise" very broadly to include any "exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief." Since the enactment of RLUIPA, courts have increasingly required concrete examples of how the exercise of a specific religion threatens prison security. Also, the court looks more to the inmate's sincerity of belief to make a determination as to whether the inmate needs the religious item to practice his/her faith, rather than to the testimony of prison chaplains about the traditional features of a religious practice. This article describes the Massachusetts Department of Correction's (MDOC's) efforts to develop policies and practices that comply with the provisions of RLUIPA. The MDOC has developed a religious services handbook as a reference guide for department administrators, employees, and inmates. It provides general information on 17 religions and religious practices. It includes an introduction from the legal division; an inmate religious services request form; standard operating procedures for special religion-related diets; commonly accepted practices for each of the 17 faiths; a religious calendar; and a list of approved chaplain property. As in many other States, the MDOC permits inmate worship both corporately and in cells. In-cell worship is defined as individual worship using approved religious items. 5 notes
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Federal legislation; Inmate religious affiliation; Massachusetts; Prison management; Religion; Religious freedom; Religious programs
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