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Jail In Okla. Hosts Mass Inmate Baptism

Officials at the Creek County, Okla., jail hosted a baptismal service for 100 inmates in August. Volunteer chaplain David Toliver organized the event as part of the Creek County Jail Ministry.

“I can’t change their lives, I can only tell them about Jesus and how he can change their lives,” Toliver told a local television station, KOTV. “We know that if they take this and march forward with it that they can be a different person.” Read more

Supreme Court Rules For Ark. Prisoner In Dispute Over Beard

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an Arkansas prisoner must be permitted to grow a half-inch beard for religious purposes.

In a 9-0 decision handed down Jan. 20, the high court said Gregory Holt, who goes by the name Abdul Maalik Muhammed and identifies as a devout Salafist Muslim, has the right to grow a beard because the Arkansas Department of Correction failed to show that doing so would pose a substantial security risk. Read more

Plymouth, WI

A correctional institution was including religious music in its graduation ceremonies for prisoners earning vocational certificates and high-school equivalency degrees. AU wrote to the warden to explain that the inclusion of religious music at a prison graduation ceremony posed serious constitutional concerns because of the importance of the event to prisoners seeking to enrich their lives through education and because of the risk of coercion inherent in the prison setting. Read more

Prisoners’ Plea Proscribed: High Court Limits Inmates’ Religious Liberty Lawsuits

The U.S. Supreme Court has let us down again this week.

The justices ruled 6-2 that prisoners cannot seek money damages from the state when their rights are violated under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The federal statute’s purpose, in part, is to protect prisoners’ rights to practice their religion. Read more