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American Indian Inmates Fight State Prisons' Hair-Length Policy


Society & Culture  (tags: Indians, Native Americans, American Indians, ethics, americans, freedoms, news, propaganda, politics, usa, freedoms, culture, society, ethics, humans, interesting, rights, religion )

Kat
- 2090 days ago - montgomeryadvertiser.com
Male American Indians incarcerated in Alabama's prisons want the right to grow their hair long according to their tribal religious customs. It will be up to U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody to decide whether they have it...



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Comments

kat yazzie (400)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:11 pm
HERE IS THE ARTICLE:

Male American Indians incarcerated in Alabama's prisons want the right to grow their hair long according to their tribal religious customs.

It will be up to U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody to decide whether they have it.

The decision will be the most recent ruling in a legal battle that American Indians have been waging with the state Department of Corrections for the past 15 years.

The Indian inmates contend they should be able to practice their religious beliefs in the same manner as inmates of other religious persuasions.

They believe the practice of their beliefs has been stifled by the department's policy of requiring all male inmates to keep their hair short.

Testimony on the grooming policy ended Friday, and the case has been turned over to Coody for consideration. A ruling is expected soon.

Alabama is one of 12 mostly Southern states that prohibit inmates from wearing long hair while incarcerated. The rest of the United States and the District of Columbia either permit inmates to grow their hair long for religious reasons or have no rule against it, according to a survey that has been admitted as evidence in the case.

Of the 25,303 inmates in state prisons, 195 are Native American.

"There is a striking parallel between the forcible cutting of Native American hair and the former Confederate states," said Mark Sabel, a Montgomery attorney representing the eight men who are suing the department.

During the 15 years the case has been going on, one of the plaintiffs in the case died and another has been released from prison.

"These are your former slave states and they are the same ones that prohibit the full observance of Native American religious traditions."

Sabel said there is no reason that Southern states can't allow Native Americans to wear their hair according to their custom, particularly since so many other states and even the federal prison system allows it.

Deward Walker, a professor with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, provided expert testimony in September 2008 that "participation in traditional religious practices has a salutary, beneficial effect upon the Native American inmates and I believe upon the institution."

He said in his testimony that the forced cutting of a Native American's "hair can only be perceived as punishment, as well as the deliberate desecration and diminishment of the person in every respect."

Attempts to reach Joseph Steadman, the attorney handling the case for the state Department of Corrections, and Brian Corbett, the department's spokesman, were unsuccessful Monday.

According to a pretrial order, the state's main argument against the practice is that long hair poses a threat to "prison security, safety, health and hygiene ... and public safety."

Keeping male inmates hair short also aids in identifying inmates, particularly in escape situations. It also helps prevent hiding contraband, stops inmates from grabbing hair during fights, and keeps it from getting caught in machinery or doors, according to the order. The plaintiffs dispute these justifications in their lawsuit.

Sabel said that throughout the course of the litigation Native American inmates in Alabama have won some religious concessions, including access to ceremonial items such as rattles and pipes, religious literature and the ability to hold sweat lodges four times a year.

The grooming policy is the final frontier in true religious freedom for these inmates, he said.
 

Chakwaina E. (125)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:22 pm
http://org.law.rutgers.edu/publications/law-religion/articles/RJLR_6_1_7.pdf

In 1987, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that prison inmates retain constitutional rights, including that of religion.[2]

A recent study suggests that the practice of religion significantly reduces the chance of prisoners to engage in verbal or physical altercations, and increases the likelihood of reform after completing prison sentence time.


http://www.nativereligion.org/intro_essay.php
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:25 pm
Utterly petty.What the *&^%$#@! difference does the length of someone's hair make in prison....or in school....or anywhere...when it comes to a person's faith..or otherwise?Ridiculous.
 

. (0)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:30 pm
noted thank you
 

Pamylle G. (462)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:31 pm
May my brotheres be granted the same right to practice their beliefs as others.
 

Dandelion G. (387)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:46 pm
May the Great Spirit enter the Hearts of the ones who will cast the decision for this case.
 

Charles J. (11)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 12:52 pm
Sadly, we humans are not very accepting of others, even more so when supposed differences come under the banner of religious beliefs. If there is something visibly different, such as long hair, that only adds to mistrust and blind hate in many situations. I can only hope and pray that a little wisdom and tolerance will soon overwhelm such cold-hearted thinking with a flood of compassion, be it behind bars or outside where the innumerable 'different' among us roam.
 

. (0)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 1:36 pm
the gov't is losing it's pea picking mind. wwhy not dig a hole or stake inmates out in 100 degree temps on a red ant hill??????

Useful info

Prisoners' Rights:
The ACLU's National Prison Project is the only national litigation program on behalf of prisoners. Since 1972, the NPP has represented more than 100,000 men, women and children. The NPP continues to fight unconstitutional conditions and the "lock 'em up" mentality that prevails in the legislatures. Learn more about our project and take action to protect the rights guaranteed to all Americans.

http://www.aclu.org/prison/index.html
==========================================================
Religious Rights of Native American Prisoners

http://www.wisbar.org/am/template.cfm?section=indian_law_section&template=/cm/contentdisplay.cfm&contentid=53461
=======================================================================================
Behind The Iron Door

by Will Blueotter

http://www.prophecykeepers.com/native_american_prisoners_rights.html
=================================================================================
ACLU Blog of rights

http://blog.aclu.org/?s=Native+American+inmate+rights
 

Margo Lodge-Seven Oakes (38)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 2:08 pm
This comes up every few years. Just like boys wearing it long in school. I think they all forget the law.
 

Eric Gilmartin (361)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 2:56 pm
This is not simply inmates being uppity and uncooperative...this actually, I think, speaks to a cultural issue for Native Americans, so I hope they win this 'fight' to preserve at least a smidgin of their historical identity.
 

Sir Walk F. (124)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 4:03 pm
""These are your former slave states and they are the same ones that prohibit the full observance of Native American religious traditions." "

The insinuation here is awfully foolish, borderline bigoted against the South, and makes me less sympathetic to the cause.
 

kat yazzie (400)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 4:12 pm
Respectfull, Sir Walkadelic, allow me to reply. I grew up in a Southern state, mainly during the 1950 through around 1970. My dad's family has deep roots there.
I can testify that the attitudes in the South haven't changed all that much! There is still a LOT of prejudice...toward a lot of folks.
I suppose you would have to really experience it to know...
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 7, 2009, 8:56 pm
Thank you, noted!

 

Chakwaina E. (125)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 12:32 am
Sir Walkadelic,

I still live in the South and yes, in some states down here prejudice is rampant!

On the the 12th of February this year I applied for a marriage liscese in TN and after having used my Tribal ID as id the county clerk asked me if I wanted my marriage lisence to say white, other or Indian.

In the same county I had to call Washington, D.C. before the Health Department would list my race as Native American. This in 2006.

I can give you even more personal stories and those of friends and family.
 

BMutiny TheCorporationsEvil (467)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 12:48 am
The Native Americans should win this fight; it will cost the government and the prison system, NOTHING. And the results could be extremely beneficial for the prisoners.
 

Chakwaina E. (125)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 3:08 am
It will cost the taxpayers a lot! This case should not be happening as it is not only a legally protected right, by Federal Law, it is an unalienable right by virtue of birth and protected as such under the Constituion of the US and the State of Alabama.
 

Kathleen R. (983)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 3:11 am
There is a Native American man who worked at a local prison and WON his case to keep his long hair!!
He is Wendall Humphrey is a Shoshone living in Corning, Ohio. Perhaps he could help if contacted~~~
 

Kathy W. (299)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 3:25 am
I personally feel anyone should be able to wear their hair anyway they want to. Long, short, bald, whatever. Was hoping those days were long gone with being so judgemental about hair and what not. Don't be so petty Alabama! Leave these men alone and let them wear their hair long as to their tribal costums!
Thank you Kat.
 

Carol D. (22)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 11:13 am
Hopefully, if the judge rules against it the case will continue to higher courts. We have a long history of conveniently abusing the first amendment to suit those in power.
 

Teresa del Castillo (1519)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 1:55 pm
Long hair issues grrrrrrrrr, that makes me angry. For religion, ethnic matters of because a person likes it, these people that made this law make life more problematic even in jail.
 

Dave Kane (308)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 2:44 pm
"Attempts to reach Joseph Steadman, the attorney handling the case for the state Department of Corrections, and Brian Corbett, the department's spokesman, were unsuccessful Monday.

According to a pretrial order, the state's main argument against the practice is that long hair poses a threat to "prison security, safety, health and hygiene ... and public safety.""

-- They are -- hopefully -- too embarassed to have to give the state's DOC reason for this bit of cruel stupidity. Might as well argue that all inmates should be bald inmates as that would obviosly be much safer for everyone. Welcome to the 21st century via the 19th : /
 

Carol D. (22)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 2:48 pm
Those were the same, bogus arguments that were used in the late 60s/early 70s in schools and a lot of other institutions. They're smokescreens, as you pointed out so well. Bald heads may also be a hazard, though...what if the reflections off of them cause someone to fail to see something and crash, or run into someone, etc...haha
 

US Veteran (95)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 6:19 pm
We took their land, killed their people, imprisoned them to reservations, forced our way of life on their children,
why not follow Bush's lead and $hit on their Constitutional Rights too?
Peace.
 

sue M. (184)
Sunday March 8, 2009, 9:03 pm
If we let the gov get away with this, we let them do it to others. Preserve the constituition and our rights1
 

. (0)
Monday March 9, 2009, 12:01 am
Noted, Thank you
 

Simon Wood (207)
Monday March 9, 2009, 11:17 am
And some people reckon there is no racism in the USA. :P The Indigenous people don't even have the right to wear their hair in thair Indigenious way?
 

Simon Wood (207)
Monday March 9, 2009, 11:28 am
Heh, how about the European invaders of North America stop trying to impose their laws upon the Native Americans of the 500 Nations?
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 10, 2009, 3:58 pm
THANK YOU!
 

Leigh B. (211)
Tuesday March 10, 2009, 7:54 pm
It is their God given right to grow their hair long due to their customs. The magistrate judge should stay out of it. Haven't native americans been stripped enough. Give them their tribal rights.
 

. (0)
Sunday March 15, 2009, 8:26 pm
As well as refecting the cultural hegemony of later immigrants to America (thats the European's)over original American's,this issue illustrates a rigid obsession with more modern gender roles..ie men were free to have long hair for most of the 19th century,without social or legal disapproval.
Are women being asked to have short hair?no..and neither should they,nor any man either..
Going by this logic,all female prisoners should be forced to have regular leg waxes,make up must be mandatory,and perfume too.All men must cover themselve's in motor oil,have love and hate tattooed on their knuckles..and fight each other in a pit everyday.
 
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