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NCJ Number: 97181 Find in a Library
Title: Our Daily Bread - Prisoners' Rights to a Religious Diet
Journal: Case and Comment  Volume:90  Issue:2  Dated:(March-April 1985)  Pages:28,30-36,38
Author(s): D L Abney
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Prisoners have a fundamental right to follow religious dietary laws; government may infringe on that right only when it has a compelling interest.
Abstract: Even then, the government may only use the least restrictive alternative to enforce the state interest. Both the Constitution and basic respect for the worth of all people, including those sentenced to prison, support this conclusion. However, prison authorities have regularly denied prisoners the food and facilities necessary to fulfill their religious obligations. Administrators have even refused to tell prisoners the contents of food they are given. Prisoners have had to eat religiously offensive foods and have been punished for following the dietary precepts of their religions. Inmates have gone to the courts to deal with these problems. The legal mechanisms for seeking relief have ranged from writs of habeas corpus to civil rights suits. In response, judges have used a variety of standards of review to reconcile prisoner demands with the perceived needs of the prison system. Respecting prisoners' rights in this area presents practical problems, but it also serves the rehabilitative function by providing an area in which the inmate can retain dignity and individuality. Seventy-three footnotes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Food services; Inmate religious affiliation; Lawsuits; Prisoner's rights; Religious freedom
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