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California Indian Prisoners Ordered To Practice Religion At Own Expense

California federal Indian prisoners brought a class action suit against the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Lompoc in 1977 for the inability to access a sweat lodge the lodge was ordered built at the plaintiffs' expense.

Terry Bear Ribs, Alan Morsette and Daniel King (plaintiffs), individually and on behalf of all others concerned, brought the action against FCI warden Larry Taylor and Federal Bureau of Prisons director Norman Carlson to facilitate a sweat lodge for religious practices. The plaintiffs alleged that First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the refusal to permit the lodge's construction. The defendants denied any such refusal.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered the FCI to all the construction at the plaintiffs' expense and specified steps in the event that any modification, complaints or vacation of the order was sought. It was further ordered that the lodge's usage would comply with and be subject to all prison rules and regulations regarding religious programs for security purposes and that both parties pay their own court costs. See: Ribs v. Taylor. Case No. 77 3985 RJK (G) (C.D. Cal. April 16, 1979).

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Related legal case

Ribs v. Taylor