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Religion in Prison-7

Elsevier Inc.
DOI: 10.1016/b978-1-59345-503-3.50010-9
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Religious Science


Publisher Summary This chapter focuses on the effect of imprisonment on religious rights. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states in part that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. The existence of the conflict between the free exercise clause and the establishment clause provides one explanation for the recognition by the courts of a need to balance the interests of the state with the interests of the prisoner. In response to demands of the courts, prison officials have provided a number of explanations for the restrictions they have placed upon prisoners' free exercise of religion as maintenance of discipline or security, proper exercise of authority and official discretion, and economic considerations. The duty of prison officials to maintain security within an institution is the most frequently cited justification for limiting a prisoner's religious freedom. Economic considerations are another factor cited by prison administrators as a justification for controlling the prisoner's free exercise of religion. One of the few restrictions placed upon the prison administrator in his or her dealings with the First Amendment rights of prisoners has been that of equal protection treating all classes of prisoners equally. The chapter also discusses the restrictions based on the maintenance of discipline or security, exercise of authority and official discretion, and the economic considerations. There are specific areas of constitutional concern as the right to hold religious services, wearing of religious medals, right to correspond with religious leaders, right to proselytize, free access to ministers, restrictions of diet, access to religious literature, classification on religious grounds, beards and haircuts, and religious practices.

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