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Sikh Harassed for Refusing to Cut Beard Settles Civil Rights Suit with California Prison Officials

by Christopher Zoukis

A practicing Sikh in a California prison who refused to cut his beard for religious reasons when ordered by guards agreed to a settlement with the prison system and officials.

     On March 22, 2007, Kanwaljit Singh Hundal was told by guards at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe to cut his facial hair. Because not cutting his hair was a part of his faith, he refused. Hundal alleged that, as a result, he was harassed, received disciplinary citations for offenses he did not commit, and had his fan and typewriter taken away.

     In April 2008, Hundal filed a civil rights complaint in federal court against J. Salazar, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and several wardens and prison guards. Hundal alleged that he was persecuted and harassed for practicing his faith, violating his First Amendment right to religious freedom, and his equal protection rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. He requested that the defendants remove the disciplinary write-ups from his record, release him from his current prison status, and return all prison good time credits lost.

     Hundal reached a settlement with the defendants on May 21, 2012, and the case was dismissed by Judge Christina A. Snyder on May 22.

See: Hundal v. Salazar, et al., United States District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 5:08-cv-00543-CAS-MAN (May 21, 2012)

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Related legal case

Hundal v. Salazar, et al.