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Outside Spiritual Leaders Must be Allowed Access to Prisoners

In 2004, prisoners at the Indiana State Penitentiary were denied Moorish Science services because spiritual leaders were suspended from entering the prison. The warden said the suspension was only temporary, but wasn’t clear about what had to be done to get it lifted. The prisoners sued in federal court claiming the suspension violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (RLUIPA) and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The district court found the temporary suspension acceptable and dismissed the case.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit found the record unclear as to whether the suspension was only temporary and what must be done to end it. The Court of Appeals held that RLUIPA would not allow the suspension on such vague terms, and reversed and remanded the case. See: Easley-El v. Ridley-Turner et al., 133 Fed.Appx. 316 (7th Cir. 2005) (unpublished).

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