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Muslim Prisoner Accommodation in State Prisons, Muslim Advocates, 2019

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FREE EXERCISE REPORT
JULY 2019

FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF
FREE EXERCISE FOR ALL:

Muslim Prisoner Accommodation in State Prisons

1

Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ..................................................................................................................... 4
I.

METHODOLOGY: A Multi-Faceted Examination of Free Exercise Conditions in State
Prisons ............................................................................................................................................. 7
A.

State Religious Preference Data: 35-Jurisdiction Response ........................................................... 7

B.

Database of 163 Recent Federal Cases Brought by Muslim Plaintiffs Alleging Free Exercise
Violations ................................................................................................................................... 7

C.

Religious Services Policies and Handbooks: 50-State Survey ........................................................ 8

II. BACKGROUND: Muslim Free Exercise History and Today’s Legal Regime ......................... 9
A.

Early America and the Preservation of African Muslim Practices Under Conditions of
Slavery........................................................................................................................................ 9

B.

Muslim Prisoners Spearhead Prison Conditions Litigation in the 1960s and 1970s .................... 10

C.

Courts Reduce Prisoners’ Free Exercise Protection in the 80s and Early 90s .............................. 12

D.

Congress Responds to the Deterioration of Free Exercise Rights by Passing RFRA, Then
RLUIPA ................................................................................................................................... 13

E.

Conclusion ................................................................................................................................ 14

III. FINDINGS: Numerous Muslim Prisoners Face Obstacles to Practicing Faith and Face
Discrepancies in Accommodation from State to State. ............................................................ 14
A.

B.

C.

1.
2.
3.
4.

Muslims in State Prison by the Numbers .................................................................................. 15
Muslims Are Overrepresented in State Prisons. .............................................................. 15
For Most States, the Share or Number of Muslim Prisoners Is Increasing. .................... 15
Muslim Women Are Also Overrepresented in Prison..................................................... 15
Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 16

1.
2.
3.
4.

Recent Muslim Prisoner Litigation Database ............................................................................. 16
Background: Challenges To Filing a Lawsuit While in Prison........................................ 16
California Is the Source of the Largest Share of Prisoner Complaints. ........................... 17
The Top Two Accommodation Problem Areas Are Diet and Prayer. ............................ 17
Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 18

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

State Prison Religious Accommodation Policy Survey ............................................................... 19
Daily Prayer, in Groups ..................................................................................................... 20
Work Exemptions and Work Proscriptions ..................................................................... 21
Religious Rights and Burials for Prisoners Who Die in Prison ....................................... 22
Head Covering ................................................................................................................... 24
Diet...................................................................................................................................... 25
Religious Property: Access to Devotional Items and Items Used in Prayer................... 30
Administrative Segregation and Free Exercise Deprivation as a Form of
Punishment ........................................................................................................................ 31

2

IV. RECOMMENDATIONS: Best Practices for State DOCs and Benchmarks for Prisoner
Rights Advocates .......................................................................................................................... 33
A.

Prayer: Prisons should permit individual, group, and weekly congregational prayer, and
should train officers on how to facilitate this common Muslim practice....................................... 33

B.

Work Proscriptions and Exemptions: Prisons should pre-approve work holidays and allow for
additional holiday requests and for religious work exemptions. ................................................... 33

C.

Burial: Prisons should treat the funerary beliefs of prisoners and their family members with
the utmost respect, and should have clear policies allowing for prisoners to indicate their
burial beliefs. ............................................................................................................................. 34

D.

Head Covering: Prisons should allow religious head coverings throughout the facility and
should train officers on how to respectfully search religious garments. ....................................... 34

E.

Diet: Prisons should provide a halal-designated meal option and should not erect
unreasonable obstacles to obtaining and maintaining that special diet. ....................................... 34

F.

Religious Property: Prisons should provide access to common religious property, especially
Qur’ans, prayer rugs, head coverings, and prayer beads. ............................................................ 35

G.

Administrative Segregation and Restrictive Housing: Prisons should not strip prisoners of
fundamental religious exercise rights as a form of punishment. .................................................. 36

V. APPENDIX A: Religious Preference Statistics .......................................................................... 37
A.

TABLE 1: Prisoners Identifying with a Muslim Group, by State................................................ 37

B.

TABLE 2: Muslim Share of Prisoners Over Time in Select States that Provided Longitudinal
Data .......................................................................................................................................... 39

C.

TABLE 3: Muslim Women in State Prisons .............................................................................. 45

VI. APPENDIX B: Analysis of 163 Muslim Prisoner Cases in Federal Court .............................. 46
A.

TABLE 1: Prevalence of States as a Source of Muslim Free Exercise Complaints........................ 46

B.

TABLE 2: Procedural Posture of the 163 Cases .......................................................................... 46

C.

TABLE 3: Accommodation Requests Raised in 163 Cases and Likelihood of Success* ................. 46

D.

TABLE 4: Institutions Producing the Highest Number of Complaints ....................................... 47

ENDNOTES ......................................................................................................................................... 48

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In my opinion the conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great
delicacy and tenderness: and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be as
extensively accommodated to them, as due regard for the protection and essential interests
of the nation may justify and permit.
-George Washington1
Freedom of religion is a core American value, and religious free exercise is
enshrined in the Constitution’s First Amendment. But these essential rights and
liberties have not always been extended equally to all faiths, or to all members of
society. Prisoners, and Muslim prisoners in particular, have faced multiple hurdles
in obtaining basic accommodations for their devotional practices, holidays, burial
practices, and religious diet requirements.
The U.S. Congress twice reiterated America’s commitment to religious
liberty for all, including prisoners, by passing two pieces of bipartisan legislation:
the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993) and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (2000). These laws were a direct response to Supreme
Court decisions that weakened some of the religious exercise protections the First
Amendment offered. But even after Congress passed RFRA and RLUIPA, courts
applied the protections unevenly and did not always rigorously question
government burdens on religious exercise, as the statutes demanded. In Holt v.
Hobbs in 2015, the Supreme Court confirmed that the statutes are extremely
demanding and require strict scrutiny of prison polices that block religious
practice.
Until now, little information has been compiled about the numbers of state
prisoners who identify with any particular faith, and there have been few stateby-state comparisons of accommodation policies and practices. Muslim Advocates
therefore submitted records requests to 49 states and the District of Columbia to
learn more about prisoners’ religious preferences and to compare levels of
religious accommodation available to Muslims. We also analyzed more than 160
recent Muslim prisoner free exercise cases in which there was a federal court
decision or order over a 15-month period.
First, our research shows that within the 34 states that provided data in
response to our requests, Muslims are overrepresented in state prisons by a factor
of eight relative to the general population. In some state systems, Muslims are
overrepresented by a factor of closer to eighteen, with more than 20 percent of
prisoners identifying as Muslim. The absolute number of Muslim prisoners has
also increased over time, even as prison populations in many states have tended

4

to decrease in the last few years. Despite Muslims constituting a significant and
growing share of prisoners, many state departments of correction still have
policies that are outdated, under-accommodating, or non-accommodating of
Muslim prisoners.
Second, we analyzed Muslim prisoner cases brought in federal court to
identify the free exercise areas that are of most frequent concern to Muslim
prisoners. The most commonly litigated problems were difficulties obtaining an
adequate religiously compliant diet, as well as problems worshipping in groups.
Third, we compiled each state’s religious services policies. We discovered
that the level of accommodation of Muslim practices is highly variable across
states, even though the same strict legal standard imposed by RLUIPA applies to
all states. Our Report highlights the most- and least- accommodating policies with
regard to specific Muslim practices. In most cases, the non-accommodating
policies are unnecessarily burdensome and not connected to any “compelling”
prison interest, and hence, are in violation of federal law.
Muslim Advocates and other Muslim civil rights organizations have sought
to halt discriminatory and arbitrary restrictions on prisoners’ religious practice,
including by representing Muslim prisoners and detainees. But the number of
meritorious Muslim prisoner accommodation cases has not abated, and there are
far more non-accommodating prisons and detention centers where Muslims
cannot practice the basic tenets of their faith.
Given the significant presence of Muslim believers in state prisons, state
departments of correction should seek to understand this population’s needs and
should ensure that their accommodation policies are consistent with the strict
standards set by Congress. The patterns of arbitrary restriction of Muslim religious
practice identified in this report highlight the need to take steps to fix these
systemic problems. Prisoners, institutional actors, legislators, and advocates can
and should work together to realize the promise of religious liberty for all. In
particular, prisons should take measures to:
•
•
•

Permit individual, group, and weekly congregational prayer, and train
officers on how to facilitate this common Muslim practice.
Pre-approve work holidays and allow for additional holiday requests
and for religious work exemptions.
Treat the funerary beliefs of prisoners and their family members with
respect, and have clear policies allowing prisoners to indicate their
burial beliefs.

5

•
•
•
•

Allow religious head coverings throughout the facility and train officers
on how to respectfully search religious garments.
Provide a halal-designated meal option and not erect unreasonable
obstacles to obtaining and maintaining a religious diet.
Provide access to common religious property, especially Qur’ans,
prayer rugs, head coverings, and prayer beads.
Not strip prisoners of fundamental religious exercise rights as a form of
punishment.

Part I of this Report describes the methodology of the Report, in particular
our multifaceted examination of free exercise conditions in state prisons, which
was sourced from fifty state records requests and a survey of free exercise cases
brought by Muslim prisoners. Part II provides background on the history of
Muslim prisoners seeking religious accommodation and an overview of the
current legal regime governing religious accommodation in prison. Part III
presents the key findings of the Report, including our findings on: the numbers of
Muslim prisoners by state; trends in Muslim prisoners’ (largely pro se) litigation
efforts; and the most- and least- accommodating state policies by religious practice
issue area. Part IV concludes with recommendations that, if followed, would
enable departments of corrections to meaningfully address the patterns of nonaccommodation and bias identified in the Report.

6

I.

METHODOLOGY: A Multi-Faceted Examination of Free Exercise
Conditions in State Prisons
A.

State Religious Preference Data: 35-Jurisdiction Response

In order to assess the current state of religious observance in prisons,
Muslim Advocates sent records requests seeking prisoner religious preference
data—i.e., the numbers of prisoners identifying with different faith traditions—to
49 states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-four states and the District of
Columbia provided useable data, which forms the basis for most of the findings
in Part III.A of the Report.
The religious preference statistics are, necessarily, of limited quality,
because the format of data provided was highly variable across states. For
example, some states provided a “snapshot” of religious preference on a particular
day. Other states provided religious preference statistics at intake, or alternately,
provided all religious designation requests for the entire year. Some data were
from 2017 and some from 2018. Some states utilize just one label for all Muslims,
whereas other states distinguish between different Muslim faith traditions in their
labeling systems. Despite all these differences, the data, once compiled and
compared, provides an important new look at the share of Muslim prisoners in
state prisons, and the distribution of Muslim prisoners across state prison systems
in the United States.
B.

Database of 163 Recent Federal Cases Brought by Muslim
Plaintiffs Alleging Free Exercise Violations

In addition to the records requests, Muslim Advocates identified and
reviewed 163 Muslim prisoner federal lawsuits over a 15-month period, from
October 10, 2017 to January 23, 2019. Our purpose was to gain an understanding
of which issues were most important to Muslim litigants, who are typically selfrepresented, and to discern trends in geography, decision points, and case
outcomes over this time period.
In order to find these cases, we used Westlaw alerts and search terms.2 This
resulted in mostly relevant cases, but also a few cases brought by plaintiffs from
other religions or cases from outside the prison context. After screening out those
cases, we developed an extensive list of recently-decided free exercise cases
brought by Muslim plaintiffs in federal courts. For each case, we tracked basic
information, including the jurisdiction and procedural posture of the case.3

7

We labeled nine general areas where Muslim prisoner plaintiffs sought
court assistance. The general issues we coded included restrictions related to: 1)
Ramadan practice; 2) the ability to grow facial or head hair; 3) access to religious
texts; 4) access to prayer and worship services; 5) clothing; 6) halal meals; 7) access
to religious property; 8) access to a religious leader; and 9) discriminatory
behavior. We also had a general “other” category to capture any issues that did
not fall into one of the preceding categories. A single case could bring up multiple
issues (e.g. both Friday prayer and halal meals).
These cases provide a useful starting point for understanding whether
some states are disproportionately represented in Muslim prisoner litigation
relative to the total number of individuals who self-identify as Muslim; whether
certain accommodation issues or concerns predominate over others; and what
religious free exercise burdens Muslim prisoners experience most frequently.
C.

Religious Services Policies and Handbooks: 50-State Survey

As part of our state records requests, we also asked each Department of
Corrections (“DOC”) to provide copies of their religious programs policy
directives and guidance. Forty-three of fifty jurisdictions provided some kind of
responsive record. For non-responsive jurisdictions and jurisdictions that
provided only incomplete records, we pulled and analyzed policies that were
available online.

8

II.

BACKGROUND: Muslim Free Exercise History and Today’s Legal
Regime

Muslim prisoners have changed the course of prison conditions litigation,
especially with regard to religious free exercise. From the first Muslims in America
to today, Muslims have sought to maintain their faith and freedom to worship
even when faced with dehumanizing conditions of extreme control and restraint.
In the earliest cases on Muslim prisoners’ free exercise rights, courts
oftentimes failed to protect Muslim prisoners, in large part because of a lack of
familiarity and comfort with Muslim practices. More recently, even as Congress
sought to reverse the weakening of First Amendment protections by mandating
strict scrutiny of restrictions on religious practice, some courts have failed to apply
this standard equally to prisoners of all faiths. Notwithstanding a protective legal
standard on paper, the reality today is that Muslim prisoners still struggle to
vindicate their fundamental rights to worship, in an environment where many
prisons and courts provide few accommodations.
A.

Early America and the Preservation of African Muslim Practices
Under Conditions of Slavery

Muslims have been part of the American story since the beginning.4 Today
about 1 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Muslim.5 But the Smithsonian
Institution estimates that in the late 1700s, Muslims accounted for closer to 5
percent of the population, due to the significant percentage of African Muslims
captured and sold into slavery.6 The early presence of Muslims is not surprising
given the religious make up of West Africa at the time. When the first Africans
were brought forcibly to the “New World,” Islam was prevalent in West Africa, in
territories governed by both Muslim and non-Muslim rulers.7
As a result of the transatlantic slave trade, the first examples of Muslims in
America seeking to practice their faith from a position of severe restriction was in
this context of slavery. Under these conditions, Muslims strove to preserve their
distinctive religious beliefs and practices, both within the larger, majority
Christian society and within the enslaved community itself.8
European and American observers noted characteristic Muslim practices
among some slaves.9 The most noticeable and frequently commented upon
distinctions were: retention of Muslim dress codes (including a tradition of both
men and women wearing skull caps, turbans, or veils, and not seeking out western
clothes)10; maintenance of Muslim names11 (Moustapha was popular in the

9

Carolinas12); and observance of dietary rules regarding pork and alcohol, halal
requirements, and fasting during Ramadan.13 Enslaved Muslims were sometimes
literate and wrote in Arabic to preserve their faith, to leave messages for their
children, and to promote values of self-discipline and education.14
B.

Muslim Prisoners Spearhead Prison Conditions Litigation in the
1960s and 1970s

In more recent history, pathbreaking litigation by Muslim prisoners
resulted in the recognition of important religious free exercise rights for state
prisoners of all faiths. Muslims deprived of their liberty through incarceration
challenged the legality of their conditions of confinement. But courts initially
refused to consider whether certain state practices—such as the use of isolation to
prevent the spread of prisoner religious activity—violated religious free exercise
rights. In fact, the idea that federal rights applied to state prisoners at all was not
taken for granted and was something for which Muslim prisoners had to fight.
For example, in a 1961 California Supreme Court decision,15 the Court
found that Black Muslim state prisoners were not covered by the State
Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. In addition to finding the California
Constitution’s protections inapplicable, the State Supreme Court found that the
prisoners could not rely on federal constitutional guarantees of free exercise.16 In
that case, ten Black Muslim prisoners at Folsom State Prison sought the removal
of restrictions on their religious activities and the right to communicate with their
attorney.17 Prison officials openly admitted that restrictions—including the lack of
a place for worship, a ban on religious meetings, a ban on discussing religious
doctrine, and confiscation of religious literature—were enforced only against
Muslim inmates. The prison claimed the overbroad measures were needed,
because the prisoners, “by their acts in rejecting the authority of members of the
white race . . . present a problem in prison discipline and management.”18 The
Court upheld those discriminatory practices despite that admission.
Eventually the tide began to turn, and in a series of subsequent cases,
Muslim prisoners succeeded in gaining federal antidiscrimination and free
exercise protections. First, in Sewell v. Pegelow, nearly forty Muslim plaintiffs
charged that all Muslims in the U.S. Reformatory at Lorton, Virginia were put in
isolation and deprived of food and medical attention even though they had
violated no disciplinary rules.19 The court’s language in describing the prisoners
evinced a lack of familiarity with Muslim history in the United States.20 The
“Negroes professing Islam and . . . known as Muslims” complained that they
could not wear religious medals, were denied access to religious advisors, could

10

not recite prayers, and finally, that officials suppressed their grievance letters to
prevent litigation.21 The District Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds
that the state executive had sole jurisdiction over jail conditions. But the Fourth
Circuit reversed, finding that the Muslims’ complaint required at least a hearing.22
The same year, in Pierce v. La Vallee,23 the law inched further towards federal
protections for state prisoners. In this case, the Second Circuit ruled in favor of
three members of the Nation of Islam, who complained that the Dannemora State
Prison in New York denied their requests to purchase Qur’ans, and further,
imposed solitary confinement and denied them good time solely based on their
religious beliefs.24
In Pierce, the district court had refused to look at the prisoners’ claims
regarding solitary confinement, on the theory that federal courts do not have
jurisdiction over state law questions involving unreasonable restrictions on the
liberty of prisoners. The Second Circuit reversed and ordered the district court to
consider the prisoners’ claims about solitary confinement on the merits.25 The
impact of the case was to extend federal jurisdiction over conditions at state
correctional facilities, though the district court would ultimately find in favor of
the prison again on remand.26
One of the prisoner plaintiffs in Pierce, Martin Sostre or “Sostre X”, would
eventually succeed in another solitary confinement case, in which he argued that
he was held in solitary confinement for a year at Green Haven prison in New York
based only on his legal and political activities and beliefs.27 The judge authored a
scathing opinion deeply critical of the prison. Sostre went on to file several
subsequent legal challenges. In addition to shedding light on the rampant nature
of religious discrimination in prisons, his litigation efforts highlighted universal
difficulties faced by prisoner litigants when correctional officers intercept legal
mail to disrupt challenges to officer behavior and to prison policy28—difficulties
that continue to exist to this day.29
In another influential case, Cooper v. Pate, the Supreme Court ruled in favor
of a Muslim prisoner, Thomas Cooper, allowing him to sue the state prison in
federal court under the 1871 Civil Rights Act.30 This time, the prisoner was in
Illinois, and had alleged that the prison prevented him from purchasing religious
literature and denied him other privileges solely on the basis of his religion.
Together, Cooper and Pierce helped kickstart a tradition of federal courts
scrutinizing whether state prison conditions violate federal rights guarantees.31 In
subsequent years, Muslims gained limited accommodation for additional religious

11

practices, and they brought judicial and public attention to the issue of free
exercise rights for all.32 Their efforts advanced the rights of many other religions
deemed “unfamiliar” to prison administrators and jailors.33 During the Attica
prisoner “uprising” in 1971, for example, a prisoner collective would generate a
list of fifteen “practical proposals” or requests, including “[g]ive us true religious
freedom.”34 And in 1972, the Supreme Court cited Cooper v. Pate in allowing
religious discrimination claims by a Buddhist inmate to move forward.35
Before Muslim prisoners brought these pathbreaking cases, the courts had
treated state prisoners as largely falling outside the protections of the Constitution,
and were reluctant to intervene even when outrageous violations of federal rights
were alleged. Muslim prisoners’ early litigation helped shift the tides and gain
greater protections for the religious rights of prisoners of all faiths.
C.

Courts Reduce Prisoners’ Free Exercise Protection in the 80s and
Early 90s

Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the settled Supreme Court interpretation
of the free exercise clause was that serious government burdens on religious
practice would be subject to “strict scrutiny.”36 The strict scrutiny standard is the
highest level of constitutional protection, and provides an important check against
government abuses. But starting in 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court took steps to
limit prisoners’ rights generally, including in the area of religious free exercise.
In a 1987 decision, Turner v. Safely, the Court decided that a restriction on
religious exercise would be legal as long as it was based on a reasonable
justification—a flexible standard prisons will almost always meet, compared to the
previous requirement of “strict scrutiny.” In the words of the Court, a prison
regulation related to any “legitimate penological interest” would be found
constitutional.37 The same year, in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, the court further
weakened free exercise protections.38 There, the prison blocked Muslims from
attending weekly Friday congregational prayer because of their work
assignments. The Supreme Court found that preventing Friday prayer on this
basis was constitutional.39 Finally, in a seminal decision in 1990, Employment
Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court held that government laws that seriously
burden religious practice are constitutional as long as they are not specifically
directed at religion and are generally applicable.40
In the prison context, these decisions had a detrimental effect on prisoners’
ability to practice their faith. This is especially true because the Court held that any
justification related to a prison’s interest, however minor, could outweigh

12

prisoners’ most fundamental religious concerns. The result of these cases was that
prisoners’ religious free exercise complaints would receive the least searching
form of constitutional scrutiny from courts. These decisions halted and reversed
much of the progress Muslim prisoner litigants had made in the preceding
decades.
D.

Congress Responds to the Deterioration of Free Exercise Rights by
Passing RFRA, Then RLUIPA

In two successive bipartisan bills, Congress resuscitated the Constitution’s
guarantee of religious liberty for all, specifically seeking to counter the impact of
the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith. The surprising
result of these efforts is that federal statutory law now provides greater free
exercise protections than the First Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme
Court.41
Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 199342 and a
similar law that applies to states, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000,43 prisons and jails must provide a “compelling”
instead of a merely “legitimate” penological interest if they wish to “substantially
burden” religious exercise.44 Furthermore, even if a prison’s interest in burdening
religious exercise is compelling, the burden imposed must be “the least restrictive
means” of furthering that interest.45 If there is a less restrictive alternate policy
available, then the prison must use that policy instead of the more restrictive
option. The effect of these laws was to return free exercise protections to the level
enjoyed prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Smith.
Court applications of RFRA and RLUIPA in the prison context have varied
widely, and have not always provided the most extensive protections available
under the plain terms of the statute. Courts did not generally agree on how the
new standard should apply. Some courts tended towards a more deferential
review of prison directives, despite Congress’s expressed intent and
straightforward language requiring otherwise.46 In 2015, however, in Holt v. Hobbs,
the Supreme Court clarified the application of the “substantial burden” and “least
restrictive means” prongs of the strict scrutiny test. 47 The Court concluded that an
Arkansas policy violated RLUIPA, because it needlessly banned Muslims from
growing beards longer than a half inch.
Muslim claimants have generally not benefited equally from the protections
these statutes offer. A comprehensive 2012 study of federal court decisions where
plaintiffs raised free exercise claims found that, when other variables were held

13

constant, claimants from other religious communities were twice as likely to
receive religious accommodations as Muslims.48 The disparity in outcome tended
to increase in appellate court cases.49 And if the claimant was a Muslim prisoner,
the disparity increased significantly: non-Muslim prisoners were three times more
successful than Muslim prisoners in vindicating their religious liberty rights.50
Related findings of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights confirm that
Muslim prisoners encountered more frequent violations of their rights than other
religious groups. The study found that Muslim prisoners filed 42 percent of
administrative remedy requests at the prison level, and ultimately litigated 29
percent of RLUIPA cases over the periods of study, strongly suggesting that they
receive less accommodation and must resort to grievance mechanisms and
litigation at higher rates.51
E.

Conclusion

Muslim prisoners painstakingly fought for and improved their access to
religious freedom in prison in the 1960s and 70s, only to have the Supreme Court
weaken those protections via Turner v. Safely in 1987. Although Congress
responded by restoring religious protections for all, Muslim prisoners have not
always been able to benefit from those protections. Muslim prisoners are forced to
grieve and litigate their accommodation claims at a greater rate than their
counterparts from other faith traditions, with lower rates of success.
As the remainder of this Report will show, these problems continue to this
day. While some states do allow a greater measure of religious free exercise in
prison, many Muslims in prison continue to struggle to maintain their religious
practices, and face obstacles that range from diet to religious dress to particular
forms of worship and devotion.
III.

FINDINGS: Numerous Muslim Prisoners Face Obstacles to Practicing
Faith and Face Discrepancies in Accommodation from State to State.

As detailed in this Part, our findings give rise to three overall conclusions .
First, a large share of state prisoners self-identify as Muslim, and the share of
prisoners who identify as Muslim is growing. Second, Muslim prisoners litigate
most frequently over violations of their religious dietary beliefs and their ability
to pray. Finally, Muslim prisoners face a great discrepancy in levels of
accommodation from state to state, and many states have facially arbitrary and
needlessly restrictive policies regarding Muslim religious exercise.

14

A.

Muslims in State Prison by the Numbers

Until now, little information has been made available about religious
preference data of state prisoners, due to the difficulty of obtaining this
information. The data we obtained shows that in some state systems, over 20
percent of prisoners identify as Muslim. The overall share of Muslim prisoners,
including Muslim women, also appears to be increasing over time in most of the
states that provided religious preference data for multiple years.
Across the 35 jurisdictions that responded to our data requests, around 9
percent of prisoners identified as Muslims—a slightly lower figure than the 12
percent of federal prisoners who self-identify as Muslim.52 But without data for all
states, including large states like California, no firm conclusions can be drawn
about the national average. It is also possible that reported numbers are low,
because some prisoners might not self-report their religion despite identifying
with or practicing a particular faith tradition. The incentives for self-reporting may
vary from state to state.53
1.

Muslims Are Overrepresented in State Prisons.

About 9 percent of the state prison population is Muslim, at least among
D.C. and the 34 state DOCs that responded to our data request.54 The share of
Muslim prisoners across states is also highly variable. In Pennsylvania, Maryland,
New Jersey, and D.C., more than twenty percent of prisoners identified with a
Muslim group.55 Pennsylvania, Texas, and Michigan housed the largest absolute
numbers of prisoners identifying as Muslim, each with more than 7,000 Muslims
in custody. The significant presence of Muslims in prison stands in stark contrast
to Muslims’ share of the U.S. population as a whole, which is just 1 percent.56
2.

For Most States, the Share or Number of Muslim Prisoners Is
Increasing.

The data also showed that in many states, either the share of incarcerated
Muslims or their absolute number is increasing.57 This trend is surprising, given
that the prison population overall has decreased in recent years in many states, in
part due to state efforts to curb mass incarceration.58
3.

Muslim Women Are Also Overrepresented in Prison.

15

Although most Muslim prisoners are men, Muslim women are also present
in state prisons in significant numbers. In Pennsylvania, about 8 percent of female
prisoners identify as Muslim.59 In Texas and Wisconsin—states where Muslims
account for about 1 percent of the population60—Muslim women account for more
than 2.5 percent of female prisoners.61 And anecdotal data from at least one state
suggest that the number of Muslim women in prison is increasing dramatically: in
Kansas, the number of Muslim women in prison more than tripled in just eight
years.62
4.

Conclusion

Muslims are overrepresented by a factor of about eight in the thirty-five
jurisdictions that provided data. And in recent years the share of prisoners who
identify as Muslim, the absolute number of Muslim prisoners, or both has steadily
been increasing. That increase makes it all the more important that prisons and
jails provide robust accommodation for religious practices that heretofore may
have been unfamiliar to many prison administrators.
B.

Recent Muslim Prisoner Litigation Database

In addition to requesting religious preference data, Muslim Advocates
compiled 163 recent Muslim prisoner lawsuits over a 15-month period.63 The cases
were filed in federal court, but came from a mix of federal prisons, state prisons,
and state and local jails. Claims from federal prisons were included to provide a
holistic view of the kinds of free exercise complaints Muslim prisoners most
frequently raise in court filings. These cases vividly illustrate some of the burdens
on practice endured by Muslim prisoners. And in the aggregate, they provide
important insight into the religious free exercise issues that give rise to the most
prevalent sources of grievance.
1.

Background: Challenges To Filing a Lawsuit While in Prison

Roughly every three days, one Muslim prisoner is sufficiently aggrieved by
the lack of accommodation he or she faces to file a federal lawsuit.64 To file such a
lawsuit, a prisoner must pay fees and overcome other serious obstacles to
litigating, including the inability to obtain legal representation, fear of retaliation,
difficulty conducting legal research, and lack of materials for mailing.
Prisoners must pay significant fees to file a federal lawsuit, and must
therefore be highly motivated by a free exercise violation to seek assistance from
a federal court. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA),65 prisoners must

16

pay full fees even if they are proceeding in forma pauperis—a status that ordinarily
allows indigent persons to proceed in court without the usual fees. In New York,
for example, this means that penniless prisoners must commit to a $350 filing fee,
and then another $450 if they wish to appeal. These fees are paid in installments
which may be garnished from their commissary accounts.66 The average minimum
daily wages paid to imprisoned workers for non-industry prison jobs is 86 cents.67
In purely financial terms, the burden of litigation for many is extremely significant.
2.

California Is the Source of the Largest Share of Prisoner
Complaints.

The largest share of cases came from California, which was the source of 20
of 163 cases or over 12 percent. California’s San Quentin State Prison in particular
was a frequent source of free exercise grievances.68
The prevalence of California cases suggests a lack of accommodating
policies, a large absolute number of Muslim prisoners, or both. California’s DOC
did not provide Muslim Advocates with religious preference data, and does not
have a detailed religious services handbook or policy to guide state prisons on best
practices for accommodating prisoners of diverse faiths.69
3.

The Top Two Accommodation Problem Areas Are Diet and
Prayer.
i.

Muslim Prisoners Have Trouble Obtaining a Religious
Diet.

The most common accommodation problem identified by Muslim
prisoners in their federal lawsuits was difficulty receiving a diet accommodation.
In the 163 cases identified, more than 39 percent involved food.70 Of these diet
cases, over 46 percent succeeded, in that they were allowed to proceed to a
subsequent phase of review, for example by surviving PLRA screening, a Motion
to Dismiss, or Summary Judgement.
In Stewart v. Sheahan,71 a prisoner alleged that the prison failed to provide
him religious meals for four consecutive days during the month of Ramadan
(during which Muslims refrain from food and drink during daylight hours and
break their fast at night). In another diet case, a disabled prisoner explained he had
to submit 15 requests for halal, or religiously permissible meals, over a period of
about nine months before ultimately receiving any accommodation.72

17

Some Muslim inmates believe they can accept kosher certified meals as
sufficiently similar to halal certified meals. However, these prisoners often have
difficulties obtaining kosher food. Correctional officers in Florida and New York
have allegedly denied Muslim inmates kosher meals for not being Jewish, even
though there was no halal option available at that facility.73 In another recent case,
a Muslim prisoner had to wait five months for approval of a kosher diet, after
being transferred from a facility where he had already received approval for a
religious diet.74
Another common meal issue is the denial of requests to observe the feast of
Eid ul-Fitr, an important Muslim holiday that marks the conclusion of the month
of Ramadan. The frequency of claims brought by Muslim inmates about this feast
demonstrates the importance of this religious occasion.75 Considering that
Christian holiday meals and festivity requests are routine or easily granted
approval, these claims signal disparate treatment of Muslim prisoners.
ii.

Muslims Face Obstacles to Prayer and Worship.

Obstacles to prayer and worship were the second most common complaint
by Muslim prisoner litigants. Fifty-seven of the 163 cases, or 35 percent, related to
restrictions on the ability to pray or worship. Just over a third of those complaints,
or 36 percent, were allowed to proceed to the next phase of litigation.
At one institution, Muslim inmates were banned from praying inside the
chapel, even though other religious groups were permitted to do so.76 The Plaintiff
in that case explained that this rule forced him and other Muslim inmates to pray
outside in extreme weather conditions including cold, snow, and rain. In another
case, a prison banned Muslim prayer in the prison dayroom,77 and sent a prisoner
to administrative segregation when he attempted to pray with others. In a third,
the prison prohibited Muslim prayer in the outdoor yard.78 One prison even went
so far as to prohibit Muslim inmates from praying in their own cells.79
Finally, in two recent cases, prisoners referenced a rule limiting Muslim
inmates to one religious service per week as a form of punishment.80
4.

Conclusion

Despite the significant hurdles to litigating, Muslim prisoners across the
country are still motivated to seek court assistance in overcoming practices and
regulations that inhibit free exercise. Courts have allowed a significant proportion
of those cases to proceed, confirming that many of these claims are meritorious.

18

C.

State Prison Religious Accommodation Policy81 Survey

Not all prisoners will have the grit, money, endurance, or resolve to pursue
a federal lawsuit against the institutions or officials controlling nearly every aspect
of their day-to-day life. As a result, we looked beyond recent cases to compare and
contrast general correctional policies and directives regarding religious practice
across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Through this review, we found that the level of accommodation provided
to Muslims is highly inconsistent, even though the same RLUIPA standard applies
equally to all prisoners. Some states provide an appropriate level of
accommodation in their policies, and others seemingly ignore or downplay the
basic religious needs of Muslim prisoners. Our review of the policies reveals
numerous examples of restrictions on Muslim practice that are needless, excessive,
and without any legitimate justification.
Huge discrepancies in the level of accommodation invite an obvious
question: If some prisons have allowed or facilitated Muslim practices, why have
other prisons not done the same? With RLUIPA’s strict scrutiny test, this is exactly
the question that Congress instructs courts to ask. Under RLUIPA, the burden is
on the prison to show that it has a “compelling” interest that is advanced by
burdening a given religious practice.82 The prison must also show that it is
pursuing its compelling interest in the way that is “least restrictive” of the
prisoner’s religious practice.83 In other words, if there is an alternative policy that
would achieve the prison’s interest—and would impose a lesser burden on the
prisoner—then that alternative is less restrictive and should be adopted. The
prison is required to use the least restrictive, or most accommodating, of available
options that satisfy its compelling interests. This outcome aligns with the intent of
Congress in providing for the maximum religious freedom possible, even in a
restrictive setting like prison.84
Our statewide survey documents that there are many “less restrictive” and
even fully accommodating prison policies that successfully facilitate Muslim
practices around prayer, diet, and dress, without compromising compelling
government interests in safety. Unfortunately, the survey also reveals examples of
cruelly restrictive directives and policies.
In what follows, we compare the most and least restrictive state polices in
six areas of common free exercise regulation: group prayer; work exemptions and

19

proscriptions; religious rights at death; head covering; diet and fasting; religious
property; and the religious rights of prisoners in administrative housing or
segregation.
1.

Daily Prayer, in Groups

Muslims generally believe they are required to perform five daily prayers
at specified times, which vary slightly from day to day depending on the time of
year. The daily prayers take just a few minutes each, and should be performed
under certain conditions including: in a ritually pure state and in modest clothing;
in a clean place that is preferably quiet; and facing towards Mecca. Finally, the
daily prayers should be performed in a group if other Muslims are present.
The daily prayer obligations of Muslims have no exact analogue in
Christianity. Perhaps as a result, prisons sometimes have difficulty understanding
the practice. State correctional departments vary in their accommodation of
Muslim daily prayer generally and of group prayer in particular. Many policies
and handbooks fail to mention this widespread Muslim practice. Other states,
however, do provide guidance to prison administrators.
On the more accommodating end of the spectrum, seven state religious
handbooks recognize the importance of group prayer in Muslim daily practice and
instruct that daily group prayer be allowed where possible.85 For example,
Indiana’s general policy allows prisoners to “gather for religious discussion
and/or prayer” provided it is during leisure or recreation periods and is not
disruptive, and that no one is coerced into praying.86 The Indiana policy further
acknowledges with regard to Muslims that “although [a] Muslim may perform
religious duty individually, the main thrust of Islam is to show religious life in
community.”87 The policy further notes that preferably the five daily prayers “will
be said with the congregation” and even explains that some of the prayers may be
vocalized.
Similarly, the New Jersey policy states that daily prayers can be performed
“individually or in congregation” at the prescribed times. The policy also notes
that prayers can be made at work sites, school, or housing units during break
times.88
South Carolina’s written policy is that prisoners may be allowed to meet as
a group for “some” of the daily prayers “depending on space, controlled
movement, and level of security.”89 The South Carolina policy is one of the few
that also recognizes, correctly, that it is not polite to walk in front of a Muslim

20

person while he or she is praying, and that the area for prayer should be quiet and
clean.90
Other state policies are not as accommodating. They include overbroad
policies that require any faith group activity to be directly supervised and preauthorized,91 even when they do not typically impose the same requirements on
secular group activities such as sports games, card matches, or watching the
television. Sometimes, states even target Muslim group practice for special
surveillance. In Arizona, the written policy requires a security officer to be present
for Muslim weekly congregational service on Fridays, but there is no such
requirement for other groups’ weekly congregational prayer. 92
Other states have adopted a mixed approach that does not ban group
prayer entirely but instead tailor inmate-led group prayer supervision rules to the
security level and particularities of each housing unit. In Idaho, for example,
inmate-led activity, whether religious or secular, receives different levels of
scrutiny depending on the housing unit classification. Thus, prisoner-led activity
in minimum security facilities requires periodic supervision that is either direct (in
person) or indirect (direct line of sight through video or window), but supervision
is increased in more secure units.93 Exceptions can be approved by the facility
head. 94 Other states allow prayer leaders who have received prior written
permission to lead daily group prayers. 95
2.

Work Exemptions and Work Proscriptions

The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude,
“except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly
convicted.”96 As a result of this exception, forced labor is still practiced in the
United States. Prisoners may be forced to work full time under threat of
punishment and without any compensation (or meager compensation), in fields,
factories, or kitchens.97 Courts have ruled that prison laborers are not protected by
workers’ rights statutes like the Fair Labor Standards Act or the National Labor
Relations Act.98
There is no compelling reason that prison laborers should not—at the very
least—be protected by RLUIPA and RFRA from working jobs that may conflict
with their beliefs (for example handling or serving pork or alcohol), or why they
should not be permitted time off to complete mandatory religious observances
(holidays, daily prayers, etc.).

21

It should go without saying that a prisoner of faith does not have to work
on certain religious holidays. But surprisingly, a few state correctional
departments do not explicitly provide for work exemptions or identify days of
work proscription for Muslims. In other states, it is unclear the extent to which
Muslim workers are able to fulfil their religious obligations while on the job, or
whether they are permitted work exemptions.
In Alabama, for example, the official policy is that there are no work
exemptions at all.99 The policy as written is facially overbroad and not narrowly
tailored. Arkansas and Colorado100 do not even provide an exemption for
Ramadan, a month of fasting during which Muslim prisoners do not eat or drink
during daylight hours. Depending on how physically demanding a prisoner’s
work assignment is, the lack of a work exemption could result in serious pressure
on prisoners to break their fast. In Ohio, “no specific work proscriptions are noted”
for Muslims, though members of other groups get work holidays.101 In Vermont,
the policy notes that “there are no work proscriptions required” for Muslims.102
By contrast, many other states do provide at least some days of work
proscription to Muslim prisoners, though the specific holidays recognized—and
the procedures for requesting the day off—vary from place to place. In Arizona,
prisoners are apparently likely to receive pre-approved work proscription days,
and can additionally request work exemptions that recur on a weekly basis.103
Florida allows work breaks during Ramadan if the individual so requests.104 The
other states with some kind of work break for holidays include Indiana105;
Kentucky106; Maryland107; New Jersey108; New Mexico109; North Carolina110; New
York111; Oklahoma112; Pennsylvania (in “rare cases” only)113; Virginia 114;
Washington115; and Wisconsin.116 The Illinois policy also recognizes that certain
work assignments may violate individuals’ beliefs, and considers on a case-bycase basis whether to provide an alternative assignment.117
3.

Religious Rights and Burials for Prisoners Who Die in Prison

State policies regarding prisoner death and dying also demand renewed
scrutiny. Serious religious liberty violations are likely to occur when state prisons
and jails have death and burial policies that do not accommodate religious beliefs
in that context.
A recent Supreme Court stay decision dramatically highlighted the
indignities and discrimination that may be endured by Muslim prisoners who die
in prison or who are killed by the State. In Dunn v. Ray,118 a black Muslim prisoner
on Alabama’s death row, Domineque Ray, wanted an imam to attend his

22

execution. But Alabama refused his request, even though it regularly allowed a
Christian chaplain to attend executions. The Eleventh Circuit stayed Mr. Ray’s
execution, finding it substantially likely that Alabama violated Ray’s First
Amendment rights.119 But in a terse stay decision, a 5-4 majority led by Justice
Thomas ruled against Ray’s religious rights at death.120 The state of Alabama killed
Mr. Ray shortly after, without the presence of his spiritual advisor. The decision
drew immediate bipartisan backlash. Many were shocked by the result, since the
Court’s conservative majority has shown great solicitude to religious belief in
many other contexts. 121 However, that concern has not been steadfastly applied to
Muslims.122
A lesser-known aspect of Mr. Ray’s case is that he had also requested that
he not be subjected to an autopsy, because it conflicted with his religious beliefs.
That request was also denied123 and the Supreme Court failed to even mention it
when it allowed him to be executed.124 This reflects a systematic problem across
state prisons and jails. Although the principle of honoring the dead and making
respectful arrangements for the disposition of mortal remains has well-established
roots in U.S. common law,125 that principle is sorely neglected in many state
correctional policies.
For example, Muslim burial practices typically forbid mutilation of the
body.126 Despite this widely shared belief, half of all 38 publicly available policies
automatically conduct or request autopsies, or allow the state medical examiner
the discretion to conduct one. The other half make no mention of autopsies, but it
is unclear what procedures are followed in practice. And while most states allow
next of kin to coordinate burial arrangements, several states only allow this after
an autopsy has been performed, simply disregarding any lack of consent from
either the deceased or next of kin.127
Funerary practices often serve as the final connection between a person and
the afterlife. In Islam, a prompt burial is typically required, and most Muslims
would regard cremation as a serious violation of their beliefs.128 With respect to
unclaimed mortal remains—another sensitive but overlooked topic—out of the 38
publicly available state correctional policies, six have no stated burial procedures,
nine opt for cremation by default, and twelve either provide the explicit option to
cremate or provide the facility full discretion to make arrangements for the
disposition of the remains.129 The states that cremate by default are almost
certainly violating the beliefs and dying wishes of prisoners who do not believe in
cremation. And the six states with no burial procedures at all similarly run the risk
of serious free exercise violations.

23

Some state correctional departments do have written policies that recognize
religious beliefs regarding burial. Massachusetts130 and Minnesota131 either require
consent to cremate or allow prisoners to opt out of default cremation. Florida
details which religions forbid cremation.132 Maine will not cremate if the inmate is
a member of a religious faith that prohibits it.133 Kentucky134 and Ohio135 note the
cremation restriction and include key components of Islamic burial practices such
as washing and time of burial. North Carolina allows burial prayer service for
Muslim inmate deaths.136 Washington’s religious handbook details a highly
respectful process that abides by Muslim burial practices.137 Arkansas138 and
California139 make passing mention of religious faith in the burial rites.
4.

Head Covering

Under religious principles of modesty or dress, many Muslims believe they
should cover their heads while praying or in public. Depending on the tradition
followed, men may wear a kufi or topi—a knit, brimless, round cap—or in some
cases a turban or fez. Women, similarly, may wear a hijab—a veil which typically
covers the hair, neck, and chest—or other similar forms of head covering.
Prisons around the country recognize the importance of head covering in
different faiths, but have chosen to regulate head-covering in inconsistent and at
times confounding ways. For example, an Alabama policy allows the “Koofie” to
be worn only during religious services, and fails to mention the hijab at all.140
Idaho permits religious head covering only during religious ceremonies or within
the cell.141 Under an odd rule in Colorado, head coverings are allowed outside of
the cell, but only if they are covered with another head covering such as a stocking
or baseball cap and are “not visible.” 142 In Texas, prisoners can carry their religious
head coverings out of their cells but cannot wear them outside of their cells or the
chapel.143 Other states, such as Illinois, go so far as to require “written verification”
that the head covering is required by the individual’s religion in order for the
person to be permitted to wear them, even in their “immediate sleeping area
during prayer” and in the chapel.144 Hawai’i has a similar requirement.145
These restrictions on head covering are arbitrary. As the Colorado policy
shows, non-religious headgear is allowed outside of cells. Indeed, numerous
prisons actually issue caps or toboggans depending on weather or season. There
is no reason to treat secular head covering differently. A baseball cap brim surely
obscures the face more so than most Muslim headgear, which is brimless and, with
the exception of a face veil, leaves the face unobstructed.

24

In contrast with these restrictive—and at times ridiculous—policies limiting
headgear outside of cells, numerous state policies allow religious headgear
throughout the facility: Alaska,146 Connecticut, 147 Florida,148 Georgia,149 Kansas,150
Kentucky,151 Maryland,152 Nevada,153 New Hampshire,154 North Carolina,155
North Dakota,156 New York,157 Oklahoma,158 Rhode Island,159 South Carolina,160
Utah,161 and Wyoming.162 Not all these states recognize the same types of Muslim
headgear, however. For example, Utah specifically mentions the kufi, fez, and
turban, but does not mention the hijab, 163 and thus leaves open the possibility that
officers will confiscate hijabs as contraband or prevent them from being worn.
As these seventeen accommodating policies show, prisons can adjust to
Muslim or other religious head covering practices without compromising order
and security. Indeed, under these more accommodating policies, headgear is often
subject to color limitations and to search, although the better policies also note that
such searches should be respectful.
For example, Washington State instructs its employees that depending on
the context, “[a]sking a woman to remove her hijab publicly is tantamount to
asking someone to undress in public.”164 The policy requires that such searches be
conducted by a member of the same sex outside the view of members of the
opposite sex, unless no same-sex staff is available and there is an “urgent legitimate
need” for the search to take place.165 A Maryland policy similarly recognizes the
sensitive nature of hijab searches and instructs the officer to conduct first a
“simple pat search” while the hijab is still on. If there is a need to search further,
then a female officer conducts the search in a private place. The prisoner removes
the headgear herself and puts it back on.166
States also vary in the number of religious head coverings allowed in a
prisoner’s personal property. For prisoners who wear the head covering at nearly
all times, it is concerning that some facilities only allow one head covering.167
Other states allow up to three. 168
Finally, some prisons appear to restrict head covering during
transportation outside of the prison, 169 while others do not. 170 For example, New
York State transports detainees wearing religious head coverings.171 It is not clear
why other states could not provide the same accommodation.
5.

Diet

For persons with religious beliefs about food, the denial of a religious diet
is a daily barrier to carrying out an obligation at the heart of religious exercise.

25

And as previously discussed, diet is the most common accommodation problem
identified by Muslim prisoners in their federal lawsuits. While nonaccommodation at a single meal may appear trivial, the cumulative impact of
frequent variance from dietary standards over weeks, months, or an entire
sentence is substantial.
As the Missouri diet policy recognizes, many religions consider the human
body a “repository for the divine.”172 Compliance with dietary norms may be
essential to atonement or even end-of-life repentance through heightened levels of
observance.173 And as previously noted, Muslims in America have sought to
preserve these practices going back hundreds of years.174 The desire to observe a
fully halal diet may also be indicative of strengthened or deepening religious
practice.175 This process is particularly important as a manifestation of religious
exercise in the prison context, where prisoners may feel separated from their
broader faith communities.
Many state policies do provide for full accommodation of Muslim diet
requests. Others, however, provide diminished diet substitutes or no substitutes
at all, and thus dip below the legal floor set by RLUIPA. And in some cases, the
paucity of diet accommodations may coerce individuals into violating their
dietary beliefs.
A few key differences among states are worth highlighting. First, some
facilities provide designated-halal diets and even halal meat, while others do not.
Second, some prisons impose extremely burdensome procedures on detainees
who wish to request any diet accommodation. Third, many prisons fail to specify
that diet accommodations should follow a prisoner who is transferred, forcing
prisoners to go through a burdensome request process at each new facility.
The result in many states is predictable, recurrent, and entirely avoidable
rights deprivations that can last for weeks, months, or even an entire sentence.
i.

Halal-Designated v. “Pork-Free” Diets

Nearly all Muslim traditions prohibit the consumption of pork or pork byproducts, as well as the consumption of alcohol. But many Muslims understand
the rules for halal or “permissible” food to be more complex than a simple
exclusion of pork and alcohol. In order to be a halal source of meat, for example,
animals must be slaughtered a certain way. And even non-flesh and vegetable
food sources must be processed in a way that avoids contamination or contact with
religiously prohibited substances.176

26

Prisons can provide certified halal diet plans to satisfy the religious needs
of their Muslim prisoners. Approximately nine states do have policies explicitly
requiring halal diet accommodation in some form. Other state policies do not predesignate a halal option but have a process for inmates to request halal diets and
explicitly recognize in their handbooks that halal requirements go beyond the
simple avoidance of pork.177 Most states, however, continue to force Muslims to
eat simple “non-pork” vegetarian or vegan diets which may fall short of halal, or
require Muslims to get special permission to eat a kosher diet, which many but not
all Muslims agree is an acceptable alternative to halal.
The state polices recommending “pork-free” diets for Muslims merit
special discussion.178 These diets usually do not satisfy the full conception of halal
observed by many Muslims. Pork-free diets may still include non-halal meats or
flavoring. And even vegetarian and vegan meals can be problematic for some, who
have sincere beliefs that they are not to be vegetarian. Other Muslims simply find
the prison version of vegetarian or vegan options to be so nutritionally unvaried
and inedible that they are effectively coerced into eating non-halal food items that
violate their beliefs.
Georgia provides one egregious example of a deeply flawed “pork-free”
policy. Despite the name, the accommodation available includes pork products.
The diet simply requires that there be “no more than one” pork entrée served per
day.179 Utensils used to prepare pork could still come into contact with non-pork
meals, and the pork entrée could cross-contaminate other items in the serving line
or kitchen. Meanwhile, “non-pork ham seasoning” can be used on “non-pork”
trays.180 Thus, Muslims can be compelled to eat ham-flavored food and to forgo a
meat entrée up to once a day under this “accommodation.”
Fortunately, an increasing number of prisons have policies calling for
halal-designated diets. Colorado policy lists vegetarian, vegan, and halal diets as
acceptable Muslim dietary choices.181 The religious diet request form includes a
halal option.182 In Maryland, the halal diet “shall” be offered to those designated as
Shi’ite, Sunni, members of the Nation of Islam, members of the Moorish Science
Temple, and members of other groups with the “same basic tenets that require the
Halal diet.”183 Traditional Ramadan foods like dates for breaking fast must be
available for purchase and prisoners must be notified of how to obtain them 60
days in advance of the holiday.184 Massachusetts185 and Michigan policies also
appear to have halal-designated options available, though the Michigan option is
also vegan and so may coerce some into violating their beliefs.186 New Hampshire
specifies both a pork-free diet and “Halal or Kosher” diet prepared “under a

27

certified process for the practice of . . . Muslim[s].” 187 Similarly, Oklahoma diet
policy suggests that a halal diet is available.188
The examples do not end there. Rhode Island provides halal meat both
during and outside of Ramadan.189 South Dakota policy provides halal as an
example of a “religious or alternative diet” that “shall normally be provided to
approved inmates.”190 Wyoming does not require halal meat but allows it: meat
that is “halal or zabahah” may be utilized if “immediately available through a
regular Department approved vendor at a price comparable to Kosher.”191
Although New York state does not specify a halal option, 192 New York City
Corrections has had a halal meal program on the books since the 1980s.193
The Washington State policy is one of the most accommodating on the
books. First, the chaplain’s handbook sets out a fulsome view of halal requirements
that goes beyond mere avoidance of pork.194 The handbook states that “Shi’a
Muslims are only allowed to eat Halal meats. They are not allowed to eat kosher
meats nor are they allowed to eat any other meat not slaughtered according to the
methods prescribed by the Qur’an and Sunnah of the prophet.”195 The food
preparation policy explains in detail the “requirements for obtaining wholesome
meat.”196 And accordingly, “halal” is included among the recognized individual
diets in the religious programs policy.197 At reception and diagnostic centers,
individuals select an “initial” religious diet at no cost,198 and the diet remains in
place until otherwise changed.199
The Wisconsin religious diet policy, as written, is also highly
accommodating. It explains that “halal meat meals [are to be] served four times
per week, as well as fish entrees (scale fish only).”200 Documentation of halal
certification must be maintained.201 The diet “excludes foods identified in
accordance with the strictest interpretation of Islamic law” as both “Haraam”
(unlawful/forbidden) and “Mushbooh” (food which is doubtful or suspect).202 The
policy also includes a safety valve: it is still possible for prisoners to request a form
of halal or any other religious diet not already offered by the facility.203
ii.

Burdensome Procedures to Obtain Religious Diets

Another common diet problem is that prisons create burdensome
procedures for anyone who wants to request a religious diet, rather than providing
a religious meal option automatically.
For example, to obtain a simple meat-substitute diet in Nevada—which is
neither expensive nor unusual—a prisoner must pass a diet accommodation

28

interview.204 Similarly, Iowa prisoners who require anything more complex than
a meat substitute diet must obtain chaplain sign-off, and chaplains must report
regularly to the food service directors. These Iowa special diet requests must be
“complete, furnished in writing” and “rewritten monthly.”205 In Florida, to obtain a
“certified food option” meal, prisoners have to pass an oral sincerity assessment
with the chaplain, who may then investigate the prisoner’s activity and interview
other prisoners and staff about the requesting prisoner’s beliefs and conduct.206
These policies are unduly burdensome for prison administrators and prisoners
alike, and create serious risks that prisoners will be denied religious meals for
extended periods.
North Dakota has a uniquely problematic policy that essentially guarantees
deprivation of religious food. There is a “60-day sincerity test” for anyone who
changes their religious preference to a religion with a dietary requirement.
“During the sixty days of the sincerity test, the inmate will not be provided the
new chosen religious special dietary obligation or tenets. After the sixty days, if
the inmate continues to demonstrate sincerity and commitment to the new
religion, the dietary obligation or tenets may be accommodated.”207
Prisoners, especially those with medical issues, may face a choice between
adequate nutrition and a religious diet. Some institutions, for example in
Nevada,208 require prisoners who have been prescribed a medical diet to sign
medical releases if they wish to obtain a religious diet. Prisoners who elect a nonreligious diet do not have to sign such releases. The medical release appears to be
a tacit acknowledgement that even though vegetarian, vegan, or other special diets
are “certified” by a dietician, they may in fact be inadequate, nutritionally
deficient, or even dangerous for some prisoners. The elements of many alternate
and religious diets do not vary according to a weeks-long “cycle” like the main
line meals. Instead, prisoners on the religious diet might get the same meal two or
three times a day.
iii.

Failure to Transfer Diet Preference with the Prisoner

Under the sincerity investigations and procedures outlined above,
obtaining a religious diet can take weeks or months, and sometimes involves
waiting periods, interviews, and full-fledged background investigations. A fact
which makes matters worse, in many states, is that prisoners must start the mealaccommodation request process from the beginning every time they are
transferred to a new facility.

29

Some states allow diet preference approvals to move with the prisoner. For
example, Massachusetts requires that “[s]pecial diets . . . continue without break
upon transfer to another facility.”209 Colorado also has a specific policy for diet
continuation upon transfer to another facility.210
Other state policies do not include this commonsense rule. And in
Pennsylvania, where more than 20 percent of prisoners identify as Muslim,211
prisoners transferred out of and returned to the same facility must still re-apply
through a burdensome process, which includes a facility chaplain director
consultation with a faith group leader for “unusual” diet requests. 212
6.

Religious Property: Access to Devotional Items and Items
Used in Prayer

Without clear religious property policies, Muslim prisoners face the
challenge of having their devotional items desecrated or mishandled,213 or even
confiscated repeatedly as contraband.214
The most universally important devotional items for Muslims are prayer
rugs and schedules, Qur’ans, and head coverings. Other important items include
prayer beads and scented oil. Some Muslim believers might require additional or
different items. State policies vary widely in their default acceptance of Muslim
religious property. On the unduly restrictive side, Kansas requires all religious
item requests to be approved through the chaplain, even for something as basic as
a Bible or Qur’an.215
On the more accommodating end of the spectrum, some states allow any
prisoner to access any religious property, regardless of their designated faith
group.216 More thoughtful policies also recognize that correctional officers may not
be familiar with the diversity of religious property for each faith and so may
confiscate approved items as contraband. To avoid this problem, facilities in
Indiana issue laminated cards or memoranda to prisoners that note their
authorized religious items to avoid confiscation. Individual property moves with
prisoners when they transfer, unless the new facility prohibits a specific item.217
Recognizing the importance of daily prayer in a clean space, Massachusetts
requires an extra towel to be issued to Muslims for use as a prayer mat,218 while
Maryland allows diverse types of religious clothing to be worn at weekly
congregational prayer.219 Such accommodations could be provided at prisons
across the country, but are not.

30

7.

Administrative Segregation and Free Exercise Deprivation as
a Form of Punishment

When a state places a prisoner in restrictive or disciplinary housing, do state
policies typically mandate that baseline levels of accommodation change? Not all
states specify, but a guiding principle is that the removal of religious services and
access cannot be used as a form of punishment. Religious exercise is not a
discretionary benefit that prisons may offer, but is a right they can only restrict
after passing RLUIPA’s stringent test.
At least one state actively seeks to prevent prisoners in segregation from
becoming Muslim. South Carolina requires extra verifications for someone in
restricted housing who wishes to convert to Islam. The state places this extra
requirement on no other religious group.220
Some states have a directive specifically protecting access to religious
services for prisoners in segregation. A District of Columbia directive specifies that
inmates in restrictive housing “shall” have access to religious guidance.221 Hawai’i
specifies that the chaplain may have “one-on-one contact” with special housing
prisoners who desire counseling, with approval from the warden.222 Arizona has
a policy requiring the senior chaplain to ensure that “inmates in detention or
disciplinary detention have access to and are visited by chaplains as often as
possible.”223
i.

Diet

When it comes to diet, New Hampshire notes that the prison “may not
sanction an individual by suspending or terminating their religious diet.”224 A
New Mexico policy explains that “food shall not be withheld as a disciplinary
measure” and generally that special diets for prisoners with beliefs that require
adherence to dietary laws shall be available.225
ii.

Property

In many states, prisoners in segregation can access essential religious items,
unless there is a compelling reason, for example that a particular item is being
abused or poses an articulable threat to safety. Connecticut has onerous rules for
obtaining items but provides that the items—including Kufis, beads, and prayer
shawls—shall be allowed at all security classification levels, except for men on
death row.226

31

New York State’s special housing unit policy provides that “within 72
hours” of admission, each prisoner will be permitted personally owned religious
items, including a book, a prayer rug, a prayer shawl, and a kufi or khimar.227
Arkansas specifically allows religious literature even in “punitive isolation” but
makes no mention of other items and thus overlooks many prisoners’ needs in this
context.228 Kentucky policy suggests prisoners might not be able to access their
prayer rugs while in special housing, but should at minimum be given towels that
can be used instead, and that a prayer rug or rug substitute should be “clean and
used only for this purpose.”229
California policy allows determinations regarding personal property in
special housing to be made on a case-by-case basis, but it has a default rule that
medallions, headgear, prayer rugs and prayer shawls are allowed.230 Washington
also takes a case-by-case approach that requires decisions to restrict property to be
based on “the offender’s behavior and security concerns.” 231
Under Oregon’s restrictive policy, prisoners in special housing can have
only “an” emblem or “other religious item” in the cell as long as it is not around
the neck,232 but those in Administrative Segregation or Death Row cannot.
iii.

Weekly Congregational Prayer

Michigan allows group weekly services within the same custody level of an
institution, except for administrative segregation, where group activity is
banned.233 Maryland recognizes that groups in protective custody should still
have opportunities for weekly congregate worship.234 New York allows prisoners
in “keeplock or confinement” status to submit a written request to attend regularly
scheduled congregate services.235 A separate request is necessary for each
service.236
Some states have overbroad policies categorically forbidding all group
activities. Oregon has a complete bar on special housing prisoners participating in
group religious activities with other inmates.237
iv.

Conclusion

Some states are clear that it is not acceptable to arbitrarily cut back on
prisoners’ access to religious services and accommodation just because individuals
are in restricted or disciplinary housing. Other states appear to treat certain
fundamental free exercise rights as a discretionary privilege, and actively seek to
prevent Muslim free exercise in segregation. Although prisons may have different

32

compelling interests in the context of disciplinary segregation, they have an
obligation under RLUIPA to provide the greatest religious liberty possible to all
prisoners, including in segregation.
IV.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Best Practices for State DOCs and Benchmarks
for Prisoner Rights Advocates

In light of these findings, we make the following recommendations to state
Departments of Corrections, and provide the following guidelines to prisoners’
rights advocates monitoring conditions of confinement around the country or
working with Muslim clients:
A.

Prayer: Prisons should permit individual, group, and weekly
congregational prayer, and should train officers on how to
facilitate this common Muslim practice.
•
Ensure that there is a clean dry place available five times a
day, for individual and group prayer.
•
Instruct administrators on the importance of daily prayer, and
provide information on the daily prayer schedule and prayer
direction. Post this information in dormitories and units
where Muslims live.
•
Note the importance of group prayer in a religious services
handbook created in consultation with Muslim chaplains or
imams.
•
Design a policy to facilitate group prayer in dormitories, work
sites, and recreation yards.
•
Narrowly tailor any restrictions on group prayer to each unit
or individual security designation and documented history.
Do not allow an outright ban on group prayer.

B.

Work Proscriptions and Exemptions: Prisons should pre-approve
work holidays and allow for additional holiday requests and for
religious work exemptions.
•
Provide a yearly work proscription calendar that grants
Muslims days off on appropriate holidays. Allow individuals
to request additional work proscription days depending on
their beliefs.
•
Allow Muslim prisoners to leave work to attend weekly
Friday prayer in congregation. Allow a few hours off each
Friday for the weekly congregational prayer.

33

•
•
•

Allow Muslims at work to pause for a few minutes to
complete their daily prayers, in groups.
Provide prisoners the option of reduced hours or no hours
during Ramadan, in light of the physical strain of fasting.
Do not require Muslims to do work that violates their beliefs.

C.

Burial: Prisons should treat the funerary beliefs of prisoners and
their family members with the utmost respect, and should have
clear policies allowing for prisoners to indicate their burial beliefs.
•
Provide a clear method for prisoners or next of kin to opt out
of default burial or autopsy policies.
•
With regard to autopsies, clarify specific circumstances where
there may be a compelling state interest in conducting an
autopsy.
•
Do not automatically cremate Muslim dead, and institute a
policy of recording and respecting prisoners’ end of life
preferences.

D.

Head Covering: Prisons should allow religious head coverings
throughout the facility and should train officers on how to
respectfully search religious garments.
•
Allow religious head coverings throughout the facility.
•
Instruct corrections officers on how to conduct respectful
searches of all religious property, including modest garments
and head coverings.
•
Allow more than one head covering to be maintained in a
prisoner’s property.
•
Allow head coverings to be worn on trips and during
transfers outside of the prison.
•
Base any restrictions on head covering on specific,
documented, and compelling concerns with regard to a given
individual or unit.

E.

Diet: Prisons should provide a halal-designated meal option and
should not erect unreasonable obstacles to obtaining and
maintaining that special diet.
•
During Ramadan, provide double-portioned meals at dinner,
and the same breakfast that would otherwise be available. Do
not reduce the amount or quality of food.

34

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
F.

Allow prisoners to organize special meals for religious feast
days, either by using an authorized vendor or by allowing
authorized volunteer groups to provide such meals.
Provide halal-certified diets to Muslims who request them,
and implement a policy recognizing that Muslim dietary
requirements often go beyond being merely “pork-free.”
Design religious diets with a reasonable meal cycle and level
of nutrition.
Do not refuse Muslim requests for a kosher diet.
Make obtaining a religious diet easy or automatic.
If a religious diet is retracted for a compelling reason, provide
a justification to the prisoner and after a reasonable period of
time, allow the prisoner to reapply for the diet.
Transfer diet approvals with the prisoner, even as he or she is
moved to new facilities.

Religious Property: Prisons should provide access to common
religious property, especially Qur’ans, prayer rugs, head
coverings, and prayer beads.
•
Once a prisoner is designated as belonging to a particular
faith, make permission to keep appropriate faith items
automatic, absent a specific documented safety concern at a
unit or with a particular prisoner.
•
Use property cards to prevent accidental or malicious
confiscation of religious property as contraband.
•
Transfer an individual’s religious property when prisoner is
moved to a different location.
•
Instruct corrections officers on how to conduct a respectful
search of religious items.
•
Issue regularly laundered towels or sheets that can be used as
prayer rugs, for Muslim prisoners who cannot afford to
purchase a rug.
•
Reach out to local and national Muslim organizations for
donations of Qurans, head coverings, and rugs, and provide
them for free to inmates who request them.
•
Provide access to common religious items through
commissary or outside vendors, and allow family members to
send devotional items to loved ones.

35

G.

Administrative Segregation and Restrictive Housing: Prisons
should not strip prisoners of fundamental religious exercise rights
as a form of punishment.
•
Do not take away religious property or cut off religious
programming to punish or control prisoners.
•
Allow inmates to access showers every day and wash
facilities at any time, for ritual ablutions.
•
Ensure there is a clean dry place for prayer available five
times daily.
•
Allow group prayer within the same security level.
•
If group activity is not possible for an inmate or unit, offer
indirect participation in key congregational activities, for
example through closed circuit television.

36

V.

APPENDIX A: Religious Preference Statistics
A.

TABLE 1: Prisoners Identifying with a Muslim Group, by State

State
Year and method
Arizona
Snapshot 2018238
Arkansas
Snapshot 2018239
Colorado
Total in 2017240
Connecticut
Snapshot 2013241
D.C. (jail only)
Total in 2017242
Delaware
Snapshot 2018243
Florida
Snapshot 2018244
Georgia
Snapshot 2019
reported at entry,
active inmates245
Idaho
Total Admits 2017246
Illinois
Snapshot 2018247
Indiana
Snapshot 2018248
Kansas
Snapshot 2018249
Kentucky
Snapshot 2018250
Maryland
Snapshot 2018251
Massachusetts
Snapshot 2018252
Michigan
Snapshot 2017253
Minnesota
Snapshot 2018254
Mississippi
Snapshot 2018255

All Muslims
for Period
1,291

All Prisoners
for Period*
41,599

% Muslim
Prisoners
3.1

1,970

17,283

11.4

283

6,002

4.7

1,675

17,191

9.7

1,232

5,219

23.6

516

5,235

9.9

4,907

94,278

5.2

1,485

23,876

6.2

19

3,009

0.6

5,377

62,964

8.5

1,490

26,329

5.7

419

7,789

5.4

791

24,261

3.3

5,084

18,562

27.4

774

7,919

9.8

7,416

39,666

18.7

483

9,849

4.9

685

19,284

3.6

37

Missouri
Snapshot 2018256
Nebraska
Snapshot 2018257
Nevada
Snapshot 2015258
New Hampshire
Snapshot 2018259
New Jersey
Snapshot 2018260
New York
Total Admits 2018261
North Carolina
Unclear, 2018262
North Dakota
Total Admits 2017263
Ohio
Snapshot 2018264
Pennsylvania
Snapshot 2017265
Rhode Island
Total Admits 2017266
South Carolina
Anytime 2017267
South Dakota
Snapshot 2017268
Texas
Snapshot 2018269
Utah
Total Admits 2017270
Vermont
Snapshot 2018271
Wisconsin
Snapshot 2018272
TOTAL

3,160

31,216

10.1

333

4,829

6.9

648

15,760

4.1

157

2,027

7.7

4,033

19,950

20.2

7,838

40,533

19.3

5,275

98,937

5.3

23

1,499

1.5

3,406

40,542

8.4

10,264

48,438

21.2

196

9,817

2.0

1,806

27,591

6.6

43

3,984

1.1

8,715

145,022

6.0

136

6,252

2.2

30

920

3.3

2,922

23,488

12.4

84,882

951,120

8.9

* The endnote for each state indicates with greater specificity how the totals were calculated. Where
some prisoners were marked affirmatively as having “no preference” (and the like), they are included
in the total. But if state data included labels for both “no preference” and “unknown,” then the
unknown prisoners were omitted from the total in this Table. We assume many of the “unknown” do
have a preference, but were not asked. Also note that some states provided preference data of prison
admits only for the year, so those totals do not represent the total incarcerated population in those
states. Finally, some states provided data that amalgamated prisoners and individuals under other
forms of state supervision (jail, probation, parole). Where there is a marked disparity between our total
and the approximate prisoner population according to other sources, we add comparison population
data in the relevant endnote.

38

B.

TABLE 2: Muslim Share of Prisoners Over Time in Select States
that Provided Longitudinal Data
Note: Seventeen states provided longitudinal data for at least five years

ARIZONA273 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total
number of prisoners increases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
2.7
1,079 / 39,992
2011
2.7
1,091 / 39,829
2012
2.7
1,086 / 39,845
2013
2.7
1,117 / 40,969
2014
2.7
1,131 / 42,097
2015
2.8
1,195 / 42,484
2016
2.9
1,199 / 41,968
2017
3.0
1,256 / 41,613
2018
3.1
1,291 / 41,599
COLORADO274 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners in running total
each year, as the total number of prisoners increases)
Muslim Share of Bookings
Total Muslims that Year / Total that
Year
that Year (%)
Year
2010
2.5
100 / 4,066
2011
3.2
122 / 3,827
2012
3.3
120 / 3,684
2013
3.9
161 / 4,133
2014
4.1
192 / 4,744
2015
3.8
168 / 4,394
2016
3.6
172 / 4,827
2017
4.7
283 / 6,002
2018
5.0
174 / 3,517
D.C.275 (increasing share and number of Muslims booked, as the total number
booked slightly increases)
Muslim Share of
Total Muslims Booked that Year /
Year
Population (%)
Total Booked that Year
2010
19.7
980 /4,973
2011
20.3
1,013 /4,989

39

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018

20.5
21.5
22.0
21.6
21.2
20.7
25.5

951 /4,641
943 / 4,395
886 /4,030
879 /4,074
1109 / 5,219
1232 / 5,946
1115 / 4,378

GEORGIA276 (sharply increasing share and number of Muslim admissions as the
total number of admissions decreases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Admissions /
Year
Admissions (%)
Total Admissions
2010
2.8
309 (10 women) / 11,226
2011
2.2
109 (11 women) / 4,852
2012
3.0
149 (10 women) / 4,986
2013
2.7
119 (12 women) / 4,432
2014
3.9
221 (20 women) / 5,730
2015
4.7
333 (9 women) / 7,025
2016
4.8
388 (18 women) / 8,017
2017
5.8
409 (17 women) / 7,050
2018
6.8
478 (24 women) / 6,996
INDIANA277 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total number
of prisoners decreases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
4.2
1,125 (9 women)/ 26,610
2011
4.3
1,146 (4 women)/ 26,866
2012
4.6
1,270 (9 women)/ 27,484
2013
4.6
1,291 (10 women)/ 27,985
2014*
4.7
1,309 (8 women)/ 28,005
2015
5.0
1,371 (11 women)/ 27,246
2016
5.4
1,389 (9 women)/ 25,691
2017
5.6
1,433 (13 women)/ 25,403
2018
5.7
1,490 (10 women)/ 26,329
* snapshot taken in January 2014 (for all other years the snapshot was taken in July).

40

KANSAS278 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as total number of
prisoners increases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
4.5
318 (15 women)/ 7,043
2011
5.0
359 (15 women)/ 7,188
2012
5.2
384 (14 women)/ 7,339
2013
5.2
385 (22 women)/ 7,466
2014
5.0
376 (27 women)/ 7,516
2015
5.2
399 (33 women)/ 7,690
2016
5.1
390 (37 women)/ 7,615
2017
5.2
397 (44 women)/ 7,625
2018
5.4
419 (51 women)/ 7,789
KENTUCKY279 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total
number of prisoners also increases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
3.0
628 / 20,928
2011
3.0
656 / 21, 779
2012
2.9
651 / 22,099
2013
3.2
674 / 20,879
2014
3.2
680 / 21,473
2015
3.3
715 / 21,967
2016
3.3
767 / 23,580
2017
3.3
803 / 24,055
2018
3.3
791 / 24,261
MICHIGAN280 (sharply increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the
total number of prisoners is decreasing)
Muslim share of
Absolute Number of Muslim
Year
Population (%)
prisoners / Total Prisoners
2010
14.6
6,455 / 44,113
2011
15.2
6,518 / 42,904
2012
14.1
6,146 / 43,594
2013
13.9
6,068 / 43,704
2014
16.4
7,108 / 43,359
2015
17.3
7,376 / 42,628
2016
18.0
7,387 / 41,122

41

2017

18.7

7,416 / 39,666

MINNESOTA281 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total
number of prisoners is slightly increasing)
Muslim Share of
Absolute Number of Muslim
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
3.8
369 / 9,619
2011
4.1
387 / 9,429
2012
4.5
416 / 9,345
2013
4.1
385 / 9,452
2014
4.0
387 / 9,768
2015
4.6
454 / 9,943
2016
4.5
459 / 10,105
2017
4.4
439 / 9,869
2018
4.6
458 / 9,963
2019
5.1
480 / 9,479
MISSOURI282 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total
number of prisoners is slightly increasing)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
7.5
2,302 /30,622
2011
8.1
2,490 / 30,832
2012
8.6
2,683 /31,247
2013
9.2
2,889 / 31,535
2014
9.3
2,971 /31,939
2015
9.1
2,954 / 32,329
2016
9.6
3,101 /32,461
2017
9.6
3,131 /32,600
2018
10.1
3,160 /31,216
NEW YORK283 (increasing share but decreasing number of Muslim prisoners
admitted, as the total number of prisoners admitted decreases)
Muslim Share of
Total Muslims Admitted that Year /
Year
Population (%)
Total Admitted that Year
2010
18.5
9,354 / 50,690
2011
18.4
8,916 / 48,573
2012
17.7
8,265 / 46,724
2013
17.7
8,163 / 45,997
2014
17.6
7,952 / 45,246

42

2015
2016
2017
2018

17.8
18.2
19.0
19.3

7,943 / 44,569
7,973 / 43,866
8,141 / 42,865
7,838 / 40,533

PENNSYLVANIA284 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total
number of prisoners decreases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
19.5
9,991 / 51,321
2011
19.6
10,100 /51,638
2012
19.9
10,177 / 51,184
2013
20.5
10,542 / 51,512
2014
21.0
10,636 / 50,756
2015
20.7
10,342 / 49,914
2016
20.6
10,176 / 49,301
2017
21.2
10,264 / 48,438
SOUTH CAROLINA285 (slightly decreasing share and number of Muslim prisoners,
as the total number of prisoners in custody per year decreases).
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
6.6
2,249 / 33,913
2011
6.7
2,163 /32,289
2012
6.8
2,122 / 31,016
2013
6.8
2,058 / 30,161
2014
6.5
1,931 /29,519
2015
6.6
1,865 / 28,473
2016
6.5
1,857 /28,523
2017
6.5
1,806 / 27,591
SOUTH DAKOTA286 (slightly increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as
the total number of prisoners increases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2013
1.0
36/3654
2014
1.0
36/3584
2015
1.1
40/3566

43

2016
2017

1.2
1.1

47/3819
43/3984

TEXAS287 (increasing share and number of Muslim prisoners, as the total number of
prisoners decreases)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2010
4.5
6,896 / 154,795
2011
4.5
7,022 / 156,522
2012
4.5
6,928 / 152,303
2013
4.5
6,811 / 150,784
2014
4.7
7,041 / 150,361
2015
5.0
7,478 / 148,146
2016
5.6
8,189 / 147,053
2017
5.9
8,537 / 145,341
UTAH288 (slightly decreasing share and increasing number of Muslim admits, with
alarming increase in 2017, as total number of admits increases)
Muslim Share of
Total Muslims Booked that Year /
Year
Population (%)
Total Booked that Year
2010
2.2
74 / 3,392
2011
1.6
52 / 3,267
2012
2.2
69 / 3,152
2013
1.9
60 / 3,107
2014
2.0
59 / 2,937
2015
1.8
50 / 2,816
2016
1.7
56 / 3,311
2017
2.2
136 / 6,252
WISCONSIN289 (relatively stable share and increasing number of Muslim prisoners,
as number of prisoners increases.)
Muslim Share of
Number of Muslim Prisoners / Total
Year
Population (%)
Prisoners
2013
12.5
2,783 / 22,292
2014
12.9
2,907 / 22,538
2015
13.4
2,990 / 22,307
2016
13.0
2,976 / 22,918
2017
12.4
2,890 / 23,251

44

C.
YEAR /
STATE
2018 /
Colorado290
2018 /
Delaware291
2019 /
Georgia292
2018 /
Kansas293
2018 /
Missouri294
2018 /
Nebraska295
2018 / New
Hampshire296
2017 /
Pennsylvania297
2017 / South
Carolina298
2018/
Texas299
2017 /
Utah300
2018 /
Wisconsin301

TABLE 3: Muslim Women in State Prisons
Number of
Muslim
Women
5

Muslim
Share of
Women (%)
0.9

Number of
Muslim
Men
169

Muslim
Share of Men
(%)
5.7

9

2.7

507

10.3

43

1.7

1,442

6.8

51

6.7

368

5.2

33

0.1

3,127

11.2

18

5.0

315

7.1

3

2.6

151

8.1

228

7.9

10,036

22.0

40

1.7

1766

7.0

279

2.3

8,436

6.3

10

1.1

126

2.4

40

2.6

2,589

13.7

45

VI.

APPENDIX B: Analysis of 163 Muslim Prisoner Cases in Federal Court
A.

TABLE 1: Prevalence of States as a Source of Muslim Free Exercise
Complaints
Muslim Litigants from October 10, 2017 – January 23, 2019
*only states with 8 or more cases for the period are shown

State

Cases

CA
NY
VA
GA
NC
TX
WI

20
13
10
9
8
8
8
B.

Percentage of
all cases
gathered
12.3
8.0
6.1
5.5
4.9
4.9
4.9

Number of
Muslim
Prisoners302
unknown
7,838
unknown
1,485
5,275
8,715
2,922

TABLE 2: Procedural Posture of the 163 Cases
Muslim Litigants from October 10, 2017 – January 23, 2019

Posture
Summary Judgement
PLRA screening
Motion to Dismiss
Other
Injunction
Appeal
C.

Cases
59
41
37
10
9
7

Percentage
36.2
25.2
23.0
6.1
5.5
4.3

TABLE 3: Accommodation Requests Raised in 163 Cases and
Likelihood of Success*
Muslim Litigants from October 10, 2017 – January 23, 2019

Issue
Ramadan
Facial Hair

Total
Cases
34
15

Percent
Survived
47.1
33.3

Survived**
16
5

46

Dismissed
18
10

Percent
Dismissed
52.9
66.7

Religious Text
Prayer
Clothing
Dietary
Restrictions
Ritual Items
Discriminatory
Behavior
Access to
Religious
Leaders
Other

8
57
16

1
20
2

12.5
35.1
12.5

7
37
14

87.5
64.9
87.5

64
20

30
7

46.9
35.0

34
13

53.1
65.0

16

4

25.0

12

75.0

11
18

4
7

36.4
38.9

7
11

63.6
61.1

* Some plaintiffs sough accommodation of more than one religious practice (e.g. a single prisoner’s case
could seek accommodation of group prayer and also of halal diet).
** The “survived” column indicates whether the claim for accommodation on that issue was allowed to
proceed to the next stage of the pretrial litigation process, but does not indicate whether the accommodation
sought was ultimately granted.

D.

TABLE 4: Institutions Producing the Highest Number of
Complaints
Note: the top eight facilities were state, not federal, prisons. Together they account
for 17 percent of the 163 cases.

Institution

Cases

Percentage

Chippewa Correctional Facility (MI)

4

2.5

Red Onion State Prison (VA)

4

2.5

San Quentin State Prison (CA)

4

2.5

Franklin Correctional Facility (NY)

3

1.8

Green Bay Correctional Institution
(WI)

3

1.8

Lanesboro Correctional Institution
(NC)

3

1.8

Richard J. Donovan Correctional
Facility (CA)

3

1.8

Wallens Ridge State Prison (VA)

3

1.8

47

ENDNOTES
Letter to the Religious Society Called Quakers, Oct. 1789, in 30 THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE
WASHINGTON FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT SOURCES, 1745-1799, at 416 (John C. Fitzpatrick
ed., 1940).
2 The search used was “(RLUIPA or RFRA) AND (prison or immigration or jail) AND (muslim! or
moslem! or islam! or moors or "five percent" or "5% nation" or Sunni! or Shia! or Shiite! or Sufi!).”
3 The procedural postures are: (1) Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) pre-screening, (2) motion
to dismiss, (3) summary judgment, (4) injunctive relief, (5) appeal, or (6) other. First, the Prison
Litigation Reform Act of 1995 intended to decrease the number of frivolous lawsuits brought by
prisoners, and implemented a screening procedure whereby prisoners must first exhaust the
administrative remedies outlined by their respective correctional facilities before bringing any
claims to the court. In this phase of litigation, courts first examine whether the plaintiff has
exhausted their administrative remedies. If he has, the court will allow the case to proceed. After
this point, the plaintiff could face motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment brought
by the defendants. A motion to dismiss is granted if the court determines that even if all of the
plaintiff’s allegations were found to be true, they would not be legally sufficient to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Summary judgment is granted when the court finds there is no
dispute of material fact to send to trial. Finally, the court can issue an order granting a
preliminary injunction, temporary restraining order, or final injunction, in which would the
defendant is being ordered to change its practices in some way. After the case has been heard by
the district court, either party may try to appeal the case to the federal court of appeals.
4 This fact frequently comes as a surprise both to non-Muslims and to recently-arrived Muslims.
SYLVIANE A. DIOUF, SERVANTS OF ALLAH 2 (2d ed. 2013).
5 Demographic Portrait of Muslim Americans, PEW RESEARCH CENTER (July 26, 2017),
http://www.pewforum.org/2017/07/26/demographic-portrait-of-muslim-americans.
6 Sidedoor Podcast Ep. 17: Enslaved and Muslim in Early America, SMITHSONIAN I NSTITUTION, at
3:40 (Jan. 30, 2018); African Muslims in Early America: Religion, Literacy and Liberty, SMITHSONIAN
NAT’L MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE (Jan. 11, 2019),
http://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/collection/african-muslims-early-america.
7 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 21.
8 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 18.
9 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 100.
10 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 102-04.
11 For example, a list compiled from records from all over the United States contained about 150
names of Arabic origin amid 12,000 African names. DIOUF, supra note 4, at 298 nn.48-50 (2013).
12 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 298 n.51 (2013).
13 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 119-123 (citing numerous reports of plantation owners in the U.S. and
Brazil).
14 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 7; see also ALA ALRYYES, A MUSLIM AMERICAN SLAVE: THE LIFE OF O MAR
IBN SAID (2011); MUHAMMED ABDULLAH AL-AHARI, BILALI MUHAMMAD: MUSLIM JURISPRUDIST IN
ANTEBELLUM GEORGIA (2010).
15 In re Ferguson, 361 P.2d 417, 418 (Cal. 1961) (describing tensions between Black Muslim
prisoners and guards, and summarizing how Muslim prisoners had been segregated into an “old
and filthy part of Folsom prison,” and that physical force was used without just cause).
16 Id.
17 Id.
1

48

361 P.2d at 420.
Sewell v. Pegelow, 291 F.2d 196, 197 (4th Cir. 1961).
20 DIOUF, supra note 4, at 132-134 (noting how the American system of racial classification did not
recognize intermediate strata between black and white, and how Americans often confused
Muslim Africans with Arabs, Turks, and other groups).
21 291 F.2d at 197.
22 291 F.2d at 198 (“It has been argued to us that if a hearing is ordered in this instance it will
encourage a flood of such petitions, but our answer must be the same as that given by the Second
Circuit: ‘We must not play fast and loose with basic constitutional rights in the interest of
administrative efficiency.’”) (citation omitted).
23 293 F.2d 233 (2d Cir. 1961).
24 293 F.2d at 234.
25 293 F.2d at 236.
26 Unfortunately, however, the District Court held that the evidence established the deprivation
of good time and segregation was not imposed in violation of constitutional rights to religious
freedom. Pierce v. LaVallee, 212 F. Supp. 865, 870 (N.D.N.Y. 1962), aff'd, 319 F.2d 844 (2d Cir.
1963) (expressing the Court’s view that “such an organization is a likely fomenting point for the
unrest and frustration of confined inmates”). See also Joseph Shapiro, How One Inmate Changed the
Prison System from the Inside, NPR CODE SWITCH (Apr. 14, 2017) (detailing the life and
revolutionary activism of one of the plaintiffs in Pierce, Martin Sostre).
27 Sostre v. Rockefeler, 312 F. Supp. 863, 866 (S.D.N.Y. 1970) (in which Judge Constance Baker
Motley recognizes that Sostre’s prior legal activity “resulted in the elimination of some of the
more outrageously inhumane aspects of solitary confinement in some of the state’s prisons”),
aff'd in part, rev'd in part sub nom Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1971).
28 See sources cited supra note 27.
29 See generally Brief of Muslim Advocates as Amicus Curiae in Support of Plaintiff-Appellee’s
Brief and Affirmance, Mayfield v. Muhammad (8th Cir. Nov. 28, 2018) (No. 18-2396),
http://www.muslimadvocates.org/files/Final-Amicus-brief-with-file-stamp.pdf.
30 378 U.S. 546 (1964).
31 Christopher E. Smith, Black Muslims and the Development of Prisoners’ Rights, 24 J. BLACK STUDIES
131, 141 (1993).
32 Id. at 140.
33 Id.
34 HEATHER A. THOMPSON, BLOOD IN THE WATER: THE ATTICA PRISON UPRISING OF 1971 AND ITS
LEGACY 79 (2016).
35 Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972). In Cruz, a Buddhist incarcerated in a Texas prison claimed
that prison officials had retaliated against him for sharing his religious beliefs with other inmates.
He also charged that prison officials had denied him access to his religious adviser and in general
discriminated against Buddhists by not making provisions for Buddhist inmates similar to those
provided for Christian and Jewish inmates.
36 Employment Div., Dep't of Human Res. of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 909 (1990) (Blackmun,
J., dissenting).
37 The case actually involved a mail restriction and marriage restriction, but the holding impacted
the level of constitutional review available to prisoners generally. 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987) (“[W]hen
a prison regulation impinges on inmates’ constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if it is
reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.”).
18
19

49

482 U.S. 342 (1987).
482 U.S. at 350-51.
40 494 U.S. 872 (1990).
41 In fact, Congress has passed more than 200 laws or amendments to provide protection for
religious groups, often in reaction to controversial cases. JOHN WITTE, JR. & JOEL A. NICHOLS,
RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERIMENT 149-153 (2016) (also arguing that
these laws are ultimately created by a political majority and so can be reversed, and are no
substitute for a robust First Amendment that protects religious minorities).
42 42 U.S.C. §2000bb.
43 42 U.S.C. §2000cc.
44 42 U.S.C. §2000bb-1; 42 U.S.C. §2000cc-1.
45 Id.
46 James D. Nelson, Incarceration, Accommodation, and Strict Scrutiny, 95 VA. L. REV. 2053, 2054
(2009) (noting a divide in the circuits in their application of the strict scrutiny test).
47 135 S. Ct. 853 (2015).
48 Gregory C. Sisk & Michael Heise, Muslims and Religious Liberty in the Era of 9/11: Empirical
Evidence from the Federal Courts, 98 IOWA L. REV. 231 (2012).
49 Id.
50 Id. at 276-77 (Muslims succeeded in federal court at a rate of 15.5% in prison cases and 17.9% in
non-prison cases; by contrast other claimants succeeded in federal court at a rate of 44.8% in
prisoner cases and 37.8% in non-prison cases).
51 Enforcing Religious Freedom in Prison, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, tbl.3.8, at 70; tbl.4.1, at 82
(Sept 2008).
52 Inmate Religion Stats, BOP FOIA Records Available Online (June 2016),
http://www.bop.gov/foia/docs/inmatereligionstatsjune2016.pdf (1.4% identified as “Moorish,”
6.5% identified as “Muslim,” and 1.9% as “Nation”).
53 For example, if one must be designated as “Muslim” to participate in Ramadan but there is no
such requirement for Friday prayer, this would tend to incentivize reporting by only the most
practicing. But if someone wished only to attend Friday prayers and didn’t participate in
Ramadan, perhaps they would not self-report.
54 The percentages in each state are summarized and compiled in the Appendix to this Report. See
infra Appendix A, Table 1.
55 Id.
56 Besheer Mohamed, New Estimates Show U.S. Muslim Population Continues to Grow, PEW (Jan. 3,
2018), http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/03/new-estimates-show-u-s-muslimpopulation-continues-to-grow.
57 See infra Appendix A, Table 2.
58 Nicole Lewis, The U.S. Prison Population is Shrinking, THE MARSHALL PROJECT (Apr. 24, 2019),
http://www.themarshallproject.org/2019/04/24/the-us-prison-population-is-shrinking
(reporting that the number of people in U.S. prisons fell to a nine year low of just under 1.5
million last year, a 1.3 percent decrease, but that in some states, rates of incarceration increased
over the last year).
59 See infra Appendix A, Table 3.
60 Muslims by State, PEW RESEARCH CENTER (2019), http://www.pewforum.org/religiouslandscape-study/religious-tradition/muslim.
61 See infra Appendix A, Table 3
38
39

50

The number increased from 15 to more than 50 in eight years. See infra Appendix A, Table 2,
Kansas.
63 See infra Appendix B.
64 We counted 163 federal cases from October 10, 2017 to January 23, 2019 (a period of 470 days).
65 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).
66 For a more comprehensive discussion of PLRA filing and fee requirements, see Chapter 14, The
Prison Litigation Reform Act, in A JAILHOUSE LAWYER’S MANUAL (2017).
67 Wendy Sawyer, How Much Do Incarcerated People Earn in Each State?, PRISON POLICY INITIATIVE
(Apr. 10, 2017), http://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/04/10/wages.
68 See infra Appendix B, Table 4: Institutions Resulting in Highest Number of Complaints; see also
Evans v. Brown, No. 16-cv-07318-YGR (PR), 2018 WL 3219418 (N.D. Cal. July 2, 2018); Smith v.
Cruzen, No. 14-CV-04791 LHK (PR), 2017 WL 4865565 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 26, 2017); Saif'ullah v.
Cruzen, No. 15-CV-01739 LHK (PR), 2017 WL 4865601 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 26, 2017); Saif’ullah v.
Albritton, No. 15-CV-05600 LHK (PR), 2017 WL 6558719 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2017).
69 Letter from Charles Richley, Comty. Res. Manager, Cal. Div. Adult Insts., to Joseph (Yusuf)
Saei, Legal Fellow, Muslim Advocates, at 1 (Jan. 7, 2019) (responding to California public records
request by stating “CDCR does not have a ‘Religious Services Manual’” and instead “operate[s]
from the California Code of Regulations”).
70 See infra Appendix B, Table 1 (noting 64 of 163 cases involved dietary restriction complaints)
71 No. 2018 WL 5634869, 2018 WL 5634869 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 29, 2018).
72 Lewis v. Cates, No. 15cv791-DMS-MDD, 2017 WL 6422578 (S.D. Cal. 2017); see generally
Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act § 1983, Lewis v. Cates, 2018 WL 5634869 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 29,
2018) (No. 15cv791-DMS-MDD), ECF No. 1.
73 See Sims v. Wegman, No. 1:14–cv–00415–AWI–EPG (PC), 2018 WL 1806461 (E.D. Cal. filed Apr.
17, 2018); Savastano v. LaClair, No. 9:17-CV-0364 (TJM/DEP), 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93435
(N.D.N.Y. May 31, 2018); Hall v. Annucci, No. 9:17-CV-1069 (GTS/DEP), 2018 WL 1635023 (N.D.
N.Y. Apr. 4, 2018).
74 Green v. Paramo, No. 18-cv-00480-BAS-AGS, 2018 WL 6062359 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 20, 2018).
75 See Shakur v. Thomas, No. 9:14-CV-00427 (MAD/TWD), 2018 WL 3217170 (N.D.N.Y. July 2,
2018; Watford v. Harner, No. 18−cv−1313−MJR, 2018 WL 3427805 (S.D. Ill. July 16, 2018); Johnson
v. Lopez, No. 2:15-cv-00884-JAD-NJK, 2018 WL 1567351 (D. Nev. Mar. 30, 2018); Muhammad v.
Barksdale, No. 7:16-cv-00328, 2018 WL 3371123 (W.D. Va. July 10, 2018); Abd-Ali v. Sibanda, No.
16-1643 Pittsburgh, 2019 WL 244554, (W.D. Pa. Jan. 17, 2019).
76 Soriana v. Spearman, No. 2:17-cv-1617 DB P, 2018 WL 4292270 (E.D. Cal. filed Sept. 7, 2019).
77 Sterling v. Sellers, No. 5:16-CV-00013-MTT-MSH, 2018 WL 4689462 (M.D. Ga. Sept. 29, 2018).
78 Wright v. Stallone, No. 9:17-CV-0487 (LEK/TWD), 2018 WL 671256 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 31, 2018.
79 Knott v. McLaughlin, No. 5:17-cv-36-MTT-CHW, 2017 WL 6820151 (M.D. Ga. Nov. 1, 2017).
80 See Hargrove v. Frisby, No. 1:17-cv-748, 2018 WL 2937466 (S.D. Ohio filed June 12, 2018); Hardy
v. Agee, No. 16-2005, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 5648 (6th Cir. filed Mar. 5, 2018).
81 This part of the report focuses on written policies. It is possible that accommodating written
policies are not fully implemented or followed in some places, or that some places with nonaccommodating written policies in fact provide higher levels of accommodation.
82 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb; 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc. Compelling interests must be demonstrated and not
merely asserted and typically include security and order. Spratt v. R.I. Dep’t Corr., 482 F.3d, 33,
39 (1st Cir. 2007); Kroger v. Bryan, 523 F.3d 789, 800-01 (7th Cir. 2008). Less-than-compelling
interests include cost reduction or convenience. See e.g., Shalkur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878, 890 (9th
62

51

Cir. 2008) (rejecting cost reduction as a compelling interest); Lovelace v. Lee, 472 F.3d 174, 190
(4th Cir. 2006) (rejecting notion that administrative convenience is a compelling interest).
83 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(b)(2); 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-(a)(1)(B).
84 Brief of Muslim Advocates as Amicus Curiae in Support of Plaintiff-Appellee’s Brief and
Affirmance, Mayfield v. Muhammad, at 15 (8th Cir. Nov. 28, 2018) (No. 18-2396),
http://www.muslimadvocates.org/files/Final-Amicus-brief-with-file-stamp.pdf.
85 Chaplaincy Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Ill. Dep’t Corr., at 133 (Mar. 2018); Handbook
of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Ind. Dep’t Corr., Sec. X-3, at 23-24 (Jan. 2018); Religious Services
Handbook, Mass. Dep’t Corr., at 63 (Jan. 2018); Religious Profiles, Al-Islam/Muslim, Mo. Dep’t Corr.,
at 1 (Aug. 2018); Religious Practices Reference Manual, N.C. Dep’t Corr. Div. Prisons, at 93 (Apr. 18,
2012); Inmate Religion, S.C. Dep’t Corr. PS-10.05, at 17 (Aug. 6, 2015); Handbook of Religious Beliefs
and Practices, Wash. Dep’t Corr., at 42 (2013).
86 Development and Delivery of Religious Services, Ind. Dep’t Corr. No 01-03-101, at 16 (Jan 1, 2018).
87 Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Ind. Dep’t Corr., Sec. X-3, at 23 (Jan. 2018).
88 Scheduling of Religious Activities and Use of Ritualistic Elements for Islam, N.J. Dep’t Corr.
PCS.002.REL.004.ISLAM, at 5 (May 1, 2015) (applies only to level 1 areas).
89 Inmate Religion, S.C. Dep’t Corr. PS-10.05, at 17 (Aug. 6, 2015).
90 Id.
91 See e.g., Faith-Based Programming and Chaplaincy Services, Ala. Dep’t Corr., 816.01, at 3 (Aug. 20,
2014); Religious Programs, Kans. Dep’t Corr. IMPP10-110D, at 3 (Jan. 30, 2018) (requiring
permission for two or more prisoners to meet as a group and hold a religious service); Religious
Services, Conn. Dep’t Corr., Dir. 10.8, at 4 (Dec. 3, 2018) (noting that “all” collective religious
activity “shall” be conducted and supervised by chaplain or volunteer with the same religion as
the group, and under no circumstances may an inmate conduct a collective activity, and targeting
even individual religious displays in directing that “there shall be no demonstrative public
individual prayer that would disrupt the orderly operation of the institution, such as in the work
or school area, recreation area, day room, etc. All such prayer must be done privately in one’s cell
or by one’s bed.”).
92 Id.
93 Religious Activities, Idaho Dep’t Corr. 403.02.01.001, at 7 (Sept. 22, 2017).
94 Id.
95 Religious Program, Haw. Dep’t Corr., Pol. No. COR 12.05, at 7 (May 3, 2017).
96 U.S. CONST. amend. XIII §1.
97 See generally Whitney Benns, American Slavery, Reinvented, THE ATLANTIC (Sept. 1, 2015),
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/prison-labor-in-america/406177.
98 Id.
99 Ala. Dep’t Corr. AR 462, at 6 (Aug. 11, 2015).
100 Ark. Dep’t Corr. Policy & Proc. – Rel. Servs. No. 550, at 76 (Aug. 1, 2017) (“Inmate participants
in Ramadan will go about their assigned jobs as usual.”); Offender Pastoral Care, Colo. Dep’t Corr.
AR 800-01E, at 5 (Mar. 15, 2018) (allowing proscription for Eid-Ul-Fitr, Eid-Ul-Adha, and during
Jumah prayer, but not for Ramadan).
101 Muslim Religious Practices, Ohio Dep’t Rehab & Corr., DRC 1362, at 3 (Dec. 26, 2012).
102 Religious Services Guide, Vt. Dep’t Corr., at 32 (Mar. 2017).
103 Inmate Religious Activities/Marriage Requests, Ariz. Dep’t Corr. DO 904, at 7 (June 11, 2016)
(explaining that inmates may “request to be excused from work on specified holy days,

52

documented as ‘no-work’ days for the religion in question,” and that weekly/recurring no work
day requests are entertained by Senior chaplains).
104 But unclear which days and whether it extends to Ramadan if the adherent wishes. Chaplaincy
Service: Religion Technical Guide for Selected Religious Groups, Fla. Dep’t Corr., at 24 (2015).
105 Development and Delivery of Religious Services, Ind. Dep’t Corr. No 01-03-101, at 27 (Jan. 1, 2018)
(instructing that missing work for observance can be approved on written request two weeks in
advance, and that extra work details cannot be required on a religiously restricted day).
106 Kentucky Department of Corrections Religious Reference Manual, Ky. Dep’t Corr., at 9 (May 2,
2008) (recognizing a work break only for “Eid-Ul-Fitr” and “Eid-Ul-Adha,” and requiring written
request in advance).
107 Allows accommodation to miss work or school programs, but notification required in advance.
Religious Services Manual, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs. OPS.140.0002, at 30 (Mar. 20,
2017).
108 Scheduling of Religious Activities and Use of Ritualistic Elements for Islam, N.J. Dep’t Corr.
PCS.002.REL.004.ISLAM, at 4-5 (May 1, 2015) (establishing work breaks at Jumah prayer times,
and on the two Eids in level 1 areas).
109 Religious Programs, N.M. Corr. Dep’t, CD-101300, attach., at 5 (Apr. 10, 2018) (requiring day off
from work for Eids, and up to two hour observance for Ramadan group gatherings and Jumah
prayer).
110 Religious Practices Reference Manual, N.C. Dep’t Corr. Div. Prisons, at 89, 95 (Apr. 18, 2012)
(noting Ramadan cannot interfere with work assignments).
111 Religious Holy Day Calendar 2018, N.Y. State Dep’t Corr. & Comm. Supervision, at 16 (Dec. 8,
2017) (instructing that inmates are off work and programs all day for the “Day of Ghadir”,
“Mubahilah,” “Eidul Fitr,” and “Eidul Adha,” but for other holy days, inmates should return to
work and programs after the holiday prayer).
112 Religious Services, Okla. Dep’t Corr., OP-030112, at 9-10 (Apr. 9, 2019) (explaining that there are
generally no exceptions unless “mandated” by faith to abstain for a day or participate in a service
at a specific time that conflicts, and that work hours must be made up); Id. at attach. D
“Authorized Religious Work Restrictions” (recognizing only Jumah, an hour at sunset and at
sunrise in Ramadan, and for community prayer on Eid ul-Adha).
113 Religious Activity Procedures Manual, Penn. Dep’t Corr. DC-ADM 819, at 4-18 (Feb. 1, 2013).
114 Offender Religious Programs, Va. Dep’t Corr., No. 841.3, attach. 2 “Master Religious Calendar”
(June 1, 2019) (noting that work is prohibited for certain Muslim holidays).
115 Religious Programs, Wash. Dep’t Corr., DOC 560.200, at 10 (Feb. 17, 2014) (noting that unless it
interrupts order of facility, prisoners “will be excused weekly from mandated programs or work
to attend a religious activity of their choice” but not more than once per week).
116 Religious Beliefs and Practices, Wisc. Dep’t Corr., DAI Policy 309.61.01, at 8 (Oct. 24, 2016)
(explaining that generally “[f]acilities shall make reasonable effort to accommodate an inmate’s
observance of days of special significance” and all inmates, including those in “involuntary
unassigned status” must request proscription 30 days in advance).
117 Ill. Admin. Code tit. 20, § 425.100 (“[P]ersons shall be relieved from a work assignment,
without pay, on a recognized religious holiday or celebration which prohibits work or if the work
assignment violates the specific requirements of the committed person's faith subject to concerns
regarding safety, security, rehabilitation, institutional order, space, and resources.”)(emphasis
added).
118 Dunn v. Ray, 586 U.S. __ (Feb. 7, 2019).

53

586 U.S. at __ (Kagan, J., dissenting).
Id.
121 Matthew S. Schwartz, Supreme Court Halts Execution Of 'Texas 7' Inmate Denied Buddhist
Spiritual Adviser, NPR (Mar. 29, 2016), http://www.npr.org/2019/03/29/707884682/supremecourt-halts-execution-of-texas-7-inmate-denied-buddhist-spiritual-advise.
122 Sirine Shebaya, The Supreme Court’s Ruling in Ray: A Broken Promise of Religious Liberty for All,
ACS BLOG (Feb. 12, 2019), http://www.acslaw.org/expertforum/the-supreme-courts-ruling-indunn-a-broken-promise-of-religious-liberty-for-all.
123 Ray v. Comm’r, Ala. Dep’t Corr., 915 F.3d 689 (11th Cir. 2019) (noting that the warden denied
the request, stating she had no decisional authority over the autopsy),
http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201910405.ord.pdf.
124 Dunn, 586 U.S. at __.
125 See generally U.S. v. Hammer, 121 F.Supp.2d 794 (M.D. Pa. 2000); Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of
Tex. v. Chacon, 46 F.Supp.2d 644 (W.D. Tex. 1999); You Vang Yang v. Sturner, 750 F.Supp. 558
(D.R.I. 1990); Montgomery v. Cty. of Clinton, 743 F.Supp. 1253 (W.D. Mich. 1990); Kohn v. U.S.,
591 F. Supp. 568 (E.D.N.Y. 1984), aff’d, 760 F.2d 253 (2d Cir. 1985).
126 Abdallah S. Daar & A. Khitamy, Bioethics for clinicians: 21. Islamic bioethics, 164(1) CMAJ 60
(2001).
127 Death of a Prisoner, Alaska Dep’t Corr., 104.04 (July 2018); Notification of Inmate Hospitalization or
Death, Ariz. Dep’t Corr., 711 § 4.4.4 at 4 (May 30, 2013); Religious Services Policy & Procedure Manual,
Ark. Dep’t Corr., No. 655 at 100 (Aug. 1, 2017); Rules and Regulations of Adult Institutions, Programs,
and Parole Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Cal. Dep’t Corr., § 3999.417 (July 5, 2019);
Offender Death, Conn. Dep’t Corr., 8.2 (Dec. 15, 2005); Procedure in the Event of an Offender Death, Del.
Dep’t Corr., 11-A-09 (July 16, 2010); Chaplaincy Service: Religion Technical Guide for Selected Religious
Groups, Fla. Dep’t Corr., at 81 (2015); Offender Death and Mortality Reviews, Ga. Dep’t Corr., 507.04.67
(Sept. 25, 2018); Procedure in the Event of an Inmate Death, Haw. Dep’t Corr., COR.10.1A.10 (Dec. 29,
2008); Death: Procedure in the Event of an Offender’s, Idaho Dep’t Corr., 401.06.03.011 (June 11, 2012);
Administration: Deceased Offenders: Notifications and Required Procedures, Kan. Dep’t Corr., 01-114D
(Dec. 10, 2015); Kentucky Department of Corrections Religious Reference Manual, Ky. Dep’t Corr., at 9
(May 2, 2008); Prisoner Death, Me. Dep’t Corr., 18.21 (July 17, 2017); Death Procedures, Mass. Dep’t
Corr., 103 DOC 622 (Jan. 2019); Deaths: Natural, Accidental, Suicide, Homicide, Mich. Dep’t Corr.,
04.06.110 (May 28, 1984); Death of an Incarcerated Offender, Minn. Dep’t Corr., 203.230 (Mar. 5, 2019);
Offender Death, Mont. Dep’t Corr., DOC 4.5.34 (Jan. 4, 2012); Serious Illness or Injury, Advance
Directives & Death, Neb. Dep’t Corr., 115.13 (Oct. 31, 2018); Inmate Organ and Blood Donation, Nev.
Dep’t Corr., 659 (May 15, 2018); Inmate Death or Serious Injury Procedure, Nev. Dep’t Corr., 420 (Mar.
7, 2017); Notification to Designated Individuals in Case of Inmate Serious Illness, Injury, Death, N.H.
Dep’t Corr., 6.40 (Dec. 15, 2007); Notification of Serious Illness, Injury or Death of an Inmate and
Procedure in the Event of an Inmate Death, N.M. Dep’t Corr., CD-172100 (Oct. 24, 2018); Religious
Practices Reference Manual, N.C. Dep’t Corr. Div. Prisons, at 96 (Apr. 18, 2012); North Dakota
Correctional Facility Standards, N.D. Dep’t Corr., Standard 58 at 20 (June 1, 2018); Muslim Religious
Practices, Ohio Dep’t Rehab & Corr., DRC 1362, at 5 (Dec. 26, 2012); Inmate Death, Injury and Illness
Notification and Procedures, Okla. Dep’t Corr., OP-140111 (Apr. 10, 2018); Management and
Administration of Health Care, Pa. Dep’t Corr., 13.1.1 at 9-1 (Nov. 16, 2016); Death of an Offender or
Unresponsive Offender, S.D. Dep’t Corr., 1.4.E.6 (May 13, 2019); Procedure to be Followed in Cases of
Offender Death, Tex. Dep’t Corr., A-11.1 (Oct. 2018); Disposition of Deceased Inmate Remains, Utah
Dep’t Corr., FI14/03.04 (May 1, 2014); Terminal Illness and Inmate Death - Facilities, Vt. Dep’t Corr.,
119
120

54

Dir. 353 (Mar. 29, 2006); Notification of Serious Injury, Illness, or Death, Va. Dep’t Corr., 038.4 at 8
(Dec. 1, 2018); Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Wash. Dep’t Corr., at 47 (2013); Death of an
Inmate, Wis. Dep’t Corr., No. 300.00.09 (Aug. 20, 2018).
128 A. R. Gatrad, Muslim Customs Surrounding Death, Bereavement, Postmortem Examinations, and
Organ Transplants, 309 BMJ 521 (1994).
129 Death of a Prisoner, Alaska Dep’t Corr., 104.04 (July 2018); Religious Services Policy & Procedure
Manual, Ark. Dep’t Corr., No. 655 at 100 (Aug. 1, 2017); Rules and Regulations of Adult Institutions,
Programs, and Parole Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Cal. Dep’t Corr., § 3999.417 (July
5, 2019); Offender Death, Conn. Dep’t Corr., 8.2 (Dec. 15, 2005). Procedure in the Event of an Offender
Death, Del. Dep’t Corr., 11-A-09 (July 16, 2010); Procedure in the Event of an Inmate Death, Haw.
Dep’t Corr., COR.10.1A.10 (Dec. 29, 2008); Death: Procedure in the Event of an Offender’s, Idaho
Dep’t Corr., 401.06.03.011 (June 11, 2012); Administration: Deceased Offenders: Notifications and
Required Procedures, Kan. Dep’t Corr., 01-114D (Dec. 10, 2015); Deaths: Natural, Accidental, Suicide,
Homicide, Mich. Dep’t Corr., 04.06.110 (May 28, 1984); Offender Death, Mont. Dep’t Corr., DOC
4.5.34 (Jan. 4, 2012); Serious Illness or Injury, Advance Directives & Death, Neb. Dep’t Corr., 115.13
(Oct. 31, 2018); Inmate Organ and Blood Donation, Nev. Dep’t Corr., 659 (May 15, 2018); Inmate
Death or Serious Injury Procedure, Nev. Dep’t Corr., 420 (Mar. 7, 2017); Notification to Designated
Individuals in Case of Inmate Serious Illness, Injury, Death, N.H. Dep’t Corr., 6.40 (Dec. 15, 2007);
Notification of Serious Illness, Injury or Death of an Inmate and Procedure in the Event of an Inmate
Death, N.M. Dep’t Corr., CD-172100 (Oct. 24, 2018); North Dakota Correctional Facility Standards,
N.D. Dep’t Corr., Standard 58 at 20 (June 1, 2018); Inmate Death, Injury and Illness Notification and
Procedures, Okla. Dep’t Corr., OP-140111 (Apr. 10, 2018); Management and Administration of Health
Care, Pa. Dep’t Corr., 13.1.1 at 9-1 (Nov. 16, 2016); Death of an Offender or Unresponsive Offender,
S.D. Dep’t Corr., 1.4.E.6 (May 13, 2019); Disposition of Deceased Inmate Remains, Utah Dep’t Corr.,
FI14/03.04 (May 1, 2014); Notification of Serious Injury, Illness, or Death, Va. Dep’t Corr., 038.4 at 8
(Dec. 1, 2018).
130 Death Procedures, Mass. Dep’t Corr., 103 DOC 622 (Jan. 2019).
131 Death of an Incarcerated Offender, Minn. Dep’t Corr., 203.230 (Mar. 5, 2019).
132 Chaplaincy Service: Religion Technical Guide for Selected Religious Groups, Fla. Dep’t Corr.,
at 81 (2015).
133 Prisoner Death, Me. Dep’t Corr., 18.21 (July 17, 2017).
134 Kentucky Department of Corrections Religious Reference Manual, Ky. Dep’t Corr., at 9 (May 2,
2008).
135 Muslim Religious Practices, Ohio Dep’t Rehab & Corr., DRC 1362, at 5 (Dec. 26, 2012).
136 Religious Practices Reference Manual, N.C. Dep’t Corr. Div. Prisons, at 96 (Apr. 18, 2012).
137 Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Wash. Dep’t Corr., at 47 (2013).
138 Religious Services Policy & Procedure Manual, Ark. Dep’t Corr., No. 655 at 100 (Aug. 1, 2017).
139 Rules and Regulations of Adult Institutions, Programs, and Parole Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation, Cal. Dep’t Corr., § 3999.417 (July 5, 2019); Cal. Penal Code § 5061 (West).
140 Religious Program Services, Ala. Dep’t Corr. AR 462, at 22 (curiously, there is no “Koofie”
limitation for non-orthodox Muslim groups according to the policy. E.g. NOI and MSTA can
wear kufis throughout the facility).
141 Property: Religious, Idaho Dep’t Corr. 320.02.01.002, at 3 (Sept. 25, 2017).
142 Offender Pastoral Care, Colo. Dep’t Corr. AR 800-01, at 10 (Mar. 15, 2018).
143 Notice to Offenders: Change in General Rules, Tex. Dep’t Crim. Justice (Dec. 1, 2017) (on file with
Muslim Advocates) (you may carry, but not wear, your approved religious headgear to and from

55

religious programming); Offender Property, Tex. Dep’t Crim. Justice, AD-03.72, at 4, 29 (June 3,
2015) (mentioning hijab and kufi).
144 Ill. Admin. Code tit. 20, § 425.90(e) (“wearing of religious headgear, including but not limited
to fezzes, kufis, and yarmulkes, shall be limited only to the committed person's immediate
sleeping area during prayer and to the area of religious service provided that verification is
submitted that the wearing of the religious headgear is required by the committed person's
designated faith”).
145 Religious Program, Haw. Dep’t Corr., Pol. No. COR 12.05, at 11 (May 3, 2017) (written request is
needed to wear garment outside of religious services, and verification is needed from the “head
of the offender’s affiliated church”).
146 Faith-Based Programming and Chaplaincy Services, Ala. Dep’t Corr., 816.01, at 4 (Aug. 20, 2014)
(approved head coverings may be worn “throughout the institution but shall be subject to
search”).
147 Inmate Property, Conn. Dep’t Corr., Dir. 6.10, at 17 (June 26, 2013) (“All headwear shall be
removed upon demand for inspection.”). Hawai’i apparently has a similar policy. Religious
Program, Haw. Dep’t Corr., Pol. No. COR 12.05, at 11 (May 3, 2017) (written request is needed to
wear garment outside of religious services, and verification is needed from the “head of the
offender’s affiliated church”).
148 Chaplaincy Service: Religion Technical Guide for Selected Religious Groups, Fla. Dep’t Corr., at 24,
87 (2015) (must be white only for men, scarfs may be white or blue and women can have two of
each color. Can be “non-issue” headgear).
149 Islamic (Muslim) Guidelines, Ga. Dep’t Corr. VA01-008 SOP 106.08, at 3 (July 15, 2010) (Kufis can
be worn “at anytime” provided it is white, and women can cover as appropriate).
150 Religious Programs, Kans. Dep’t Corr. IMPP10-110D, at 6 & attach. A, at 2 (Jan. 30, 2018) (policy
does not specifically mention hijab, just “yarmulkes, koofi, and tams”).
151 Religious Programs, Ky. Dep’t Corr. Policy 23.1, at 4-5 (Nov. 16, 2018) (headwear, including
kufis and hijab, may be worn “in the institution” without apparent limitation) (policy also
distinguishes between ceremonial and day-to-day headwear).
152 Religious Services Manual, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs. OPS.140.0002, at 51-52 (Mar. 20,
2017) (can be any color but can be changed if needed for safety; can be worn at “all times except
when a photo ID is being taken” ; staff searches “should have a reasonable cause”… with regard
to female population, “when searching the (Hijab, scarf), the officers shall conduct a simple pat
search while the headgear (Hijab, scarf) is on the offender’s head”… if there is concern, a female
officer conducts the search in a private place. Only the offender removes the headgear and puts it
back on). The policy’s appendix also references the Khimar and Jilbab (formless dress that covers
arms and body to ankles). Id. (Faith Group Accommodations attachment, app. 4, at 26).
153 Religious Practice Manual, Nev. Dep’t Corr., at 23 (Sept. 5, 2017) (“Only AR 810 recognized
religious head covers are allowed. Such head covers may be worn anywhere and at any time in
the institution/facility.”).
154 Religious Programming and Diets, N.H. Dep’t Corr. PPD 7.17, at 6 (Oct. 15, 2017) (stating that
“[i]ndividuals under DOC custody are permitted to wear religious head coverings at any time on
DOC property or inside all facilities” but the head coverings must be removed “during all formal
standing and emergency facility counts,” must be removed for search if requested, and “are not
permitted inside temporary holding cells”). Note however the list of permissible inmate property
seems unclear and includes kufis but fails to include other religious headgear. Issuance and
Control of Inmate Property, N.H. Dep’t Corr. 9.02, at 7 (Mar. 1, 2013).

56

Religious Practices Reference Manual, N.C. Dep’t Corr. Div. Prisons, at 91, 96 (Apr. 18, 2012)
(“Kufis and scarves may be worn at all times except when ordered to remove them for
searches.”).
156 Religious Programs, N.D. Dep’t Corr. & Rehab., 5E-1, at 5, 17-19 (Dec. 19, 2017) (stating that
religious head coverings “shall be allowed,” and that religious head coverings, “with the
exceptions of bandanas and fezzes” may be worn at religious services. Person may be asked to
have covering searched and may be “directed to unfold or unwrap” the item for inspection.
Muslim head coverings “may” be limited to use during services and in living quarters).
157 Religious Holy Day Calendar 2018, N.Y. State Dep’t Corr. & Comm. Supervision, at 16, 23, 25, 4748, 57 (Dec. 8, 2017) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (also allowing kufi with tassel for adherents
of the Nation of Gods and Earths).
158 Religious Services, Okla. Dep’t Corr., OP-030112, attach. B, at 3 (Apr. 9, 2019) (noting that while
color and style must be approved, religious headgear “may be worn at all times”). Cf. id. attach.
A, at 2 (noting the fez is only to be worn during religious ceremonies and stored at all other
times).
159 Memorandum from Matthew Kettle, Ass’t Dir., Insts. & Ops., to All Staff (Nov. 6, 2017) (on file
with Muslim Advocates) (permitting adherents to Islam and the Nation of Gods and Earths to
wear kufis). Memorandum from Matthew Kettle, Ass’t Dir., Insts. & Ops., to All Staff (Apr. 9,
2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (noting that in addition to kufis and yarmulkes for men,
hijabs can be worn “anywhere within the secure facilities except for correctional industries”).
160 Inmate Religion, S.C. Dep’t Corr. PS-10.05, at 19 (Aug. 6, 2015) (mentioning kufis and “scarves”
for Muslim women, which may be worn throughout the facility, indoors and outdoors” and
noting that RHU prisoners can have one kufi only, instead of two. The kufi must be white).
161 Access to Religious Programs, Utah Dep’t Corr., FH03/04.06, 4.08, at 22, 23 (Aug. 27, 2012)
(noting that “approved religious head apparel” may be worn at “any time or in any area of the
institution”).
162 Inmate Religious Activities, Wyo. Dep’t Corr., Policy and Procedure # 5.600, at 19 (July 1, 2018)
(stating that head coverings approved “for religious purposes” may be worn “throughout the
facility, indoors and outdoors” and warden can restrict use of head covering if there is “specific
articulable” reason or circumstance).
163 Access to Religious Programs, Utah Dep’t Corr., FH03/04.06, 4.08, at 22, 23 (Aug. 27, 2012).
164 Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Wash. Dep’t Corr., at 41 (2013).
165 Id.
166 Religious Services Manual, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs. OPS.140.0002, at 51-52 (Mar. 20,
2017) (stating that staff searches “should have a reasonable cause”… with regard to female
population). The policy appendix also references the Khimar and Jilbab (formless dress that
covers arms and body to ankles). Id. (Faith Group Accommodations attachment, app. 4, at 26).
167 Religious Programs, N.M. Corr. Dep’t, CD-101300, Attachment, at 5 (Apr. 10, 2018) (stating that
prisoners may possess one hijab or one kufi).
168 Muslim Religious Practices, Ohio Dep’t Rehab. & Corr., DRC 1362, at 3-4 (Dec. 26, 2012)
(mentioning that Muslim men may have one “white or beige kufi” and Muslim women may have
up to three white or beige headscarves).
169 See e.g., Religious Activity Procedures Manual, Penn. Dep’t Corr. DC-ADM 819, at 3-7 (Feb. 1,
2013); (“Inmates scheduled for transport are not permitted to wear religious headgear in
accordance with Department policy 6.3.1, Section 22.”).
155

57

See e.g., Transferring Inmate Property, N.Y. State Dep’t Corr. & Comm. Supervision, No. 4917, at
4 (Apr. 25, 2019) (noting approved religious head covering such as khimar or kufi can be worn
during transport).
171 Id.
172 Dietary Provisions and Religious Practices, Mo. Dep’t Corr., at 1 (Feb. 28, 2012).
173 FEBE ARMANIOS & BOĞAÇ ERGENE, HALAL FOOD: A HISTORY 6, 249 (2018).
174 See supra Part II(A).
175 ARMANIOS, supra note 173, at 249.
176 Id. at 146.
177 States acknowledging the complexity of halal requirements generally note the requirements
for halal meat, and note other contaminants and processing prohibitions. See e.g. Chaplaincy
Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Ill. Dep’t Corr., at 135 (Mar. 2018); Handbook of Religious
Beliefs and Practices, Ind. Dep’t Corr., Sec. X-3, at 24 (Jan. 2018); Kentucky Department of Corrections
Religious Reference Manual, Ky. Dep’t Corr., at 7 (May 2, 2008).
178 The following policies evince a limited “pork free” conception of halal requirements (i.e. a
view that if there’s no pork in it, it is halal compliant): Ala. Dep’t Corr. AR 701 (Mar. 19, 2014);
Ark. Dep’t Corr. Policy & Proc. – Rel. Servs. No. 630 (Aug. 1, 2017); Chaplaincy Service: Religion
Technical Guide for Selected Religious Groups, Fla. Dep’t Corr., at 24 (2015); Islamic (Muslim)
Guidelines, Ga. Dep’t Corr. VA01-008 SOP 106.08, at 5 (July 15, 2010); Religious Services, General
Guidelines, Me. Dep’t Corr. Policy 24.3, at 4 (Feb. 15, 2009) ( FSM “shall” provide pork free and
vegetarian diets to meet the request); Dietary Provisions and Religious Practices, Mo. Dep’t Corr.
(Feb. 28, 2012); Inmate Religion, S.C. Dep’t Corr. PS-10.05, at 18 (Aug. 6, 2015); Religious Diet
Program for Inmates, Wyo. Dep’t Corr., Policy and Procedure # 5.601, at 18-19 (Apr. 15, 2018).
179 Islamic (Muslim) Guidelines, Ga. Dep’t Corr. VA01-008 SOP 106.08, at 5 (July 15, 2010).
180 Id.
181 Offender Pastoral Care, Colo. Dep’t Corr. AR 800-01E, at 23 (Mar. 15, 2018).
182 Medical and Religious Diets, Colo. Dep’t Corr. AAR 1550-15F, at 15 (Apr. 15, 2018).
183 Religious Services Manual, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs. OPS.140.0002, at 44 (Mar. 20,
2017).
184 Md. Code Regs. 12.03.02.10 (2019).
185 Religious Services Handbook, Mass. Dep’t Corr. at 63 (Jan. 2018).
186 Religious Beliefs and Practices of Prisoners, Mich. Dep’t Corr., PD 05.03.150, at 6 (Oct. 15, 2015).
187 Religious Programming and Diets, N.H. Dep’t Corr. PPD 7.17, at 5 (Oct. 15, 2017).
188 Religious Services, Okla. Dep’t Corr., OP-030112, at 10-11 (Apr. 9, 2019); Id. attachment C.
189 Memorandum from Michael Bonneau, Assoc. Dir., R.I. Dep’t Corr., to “Distribution” (May 1,
2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (noting that with regard to the evening meal portions are
to be “larger than the regular portion” during Ramadan but “the portion size of halal meat
remains the same.”).
190 Inmate Religious and Alternative Diets, S.D. Dep’t Corr. 1.5.F.2, at 3 (Dec. 2017).
191 Religious Diet Program for Inmates, Wyo. Dep’t Corr., Policy and Procedure # 5.601, at 18-19
(Apr. 15, 2018).
192 Food Service Operations Manual, N.Y. State Dep’t Corr. & Comm. Supervision, No. 4310 at 20
(Apr. 2018), http://www.doccs.ny.gov/directives/FSOM.pdf.
193 Kosher/Halal Meal Program, City of N.Y. Dep’t Corr., Directive #3250 (Dec. 2, 1981);
Preparation/Processing of Kosher/Halal Meals, City of N.Y. Dep’t Corr., Classification #3254R-A
(Sept. 15, 1986).
170

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Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, Wash. Dep’t Corr., at 45-46 (2013).
Id. at 46.
196 Id.
197 Religious Programs, Wash. Dep’t Corr., DOC 560.200, at 6 (Feb. 17, 2014); Food Services Program,
Wash. Dep’t Corr., DOC 240.100, at 4 (Apr. 6, 2015).
198 Id.
199 Id.
200 Religious Diets, Wis. Dep’t Corr., DAI policy 309.61.03, at 2 (July 1, 2017).
201 Id. at 2.
202 Id. at 2.
203 Id. at 4.
204 Inmate Common Fare/Religious Diet, Nev. Dep’t Corr. AR 814, at 3 (June 17, 2012).
205 General Food Service Operations, Iowa Dep’t Corr., IS-FS-01, at 3 (Dec. 2015).
206 Religious Diet Program, Fla. Dep’t Corr., Procedure No. 503.006, at 4-5 (May 22, 2013) (outlining
sincerity assessment requirements; See also, United States v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., No. 1222958-CIV, 2013 WL 6697786, at *5 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2013) (describing Procedure No. 503.006,
which is available at ECF No. 55-12), judgment vacated, appeal dismissed, 778 F.3d 1223 (11th Cir.
2015) (granting preliminary injunction as the policy likely substantially burdens prisoners’ free
exercise rights) (subsequently dismissed as moot); Chaplaincy Service: Religion Technical Guide for
Selected Religious Groups, Fla. Dep’t Corr., at 24 (2015) (noting that “[t]his edition includes
reference to the Department’s new Religious Diet Program,” continuing to incorporate by
reference Procedure No. 503.006, and misstating the outcome of Sec’y, Fla. Dep’t Corr. by noting
“[i]n the process, the Federal Courts have validated the department’s sincerity assessment of
inmates getting into and remaining in the Religious Diet Program” (the case was dismissed as
moot and the policy was not validated)). The Florida diet program provides that the chaplain
may verify inmate responses by interviewing staff, inspecting records, conducting internet
searches to learn about diet requirements of other religions, and telephoning and emailing clergy.
Religious Diet Program, Fla. Dep’t Corr., Procedure No. 503.006, at 4-5 (May 22, 2013).
207 Religious Programs, N.D. Dep’t Corr. & Rehab., 5E-1, at 5 (Dec. 19, 2017).
208 Inmate Common Fare/Religious Diet, Nev. Dep’t Corr., AR 814, at 5-6 (June 17, 2012).
209 Religious Services Handbook, Mass. Dep’t Corr., at 10 (Jan. 2018) (emphasis added).
210 Medical and Religious Diets, Colo. Dep’t Corr., AAR 1550-15, at 6-7 (Apr. 15, 2018).
211 See infra Appendix A, Table 1.
212 Religious Activity Procedures Manual, Penn. Dep’t Corr., DC-ADM 819, at 1-10, 4-17 (Feb. 1,
2013).
213 See e.g., Harris v. Escamilla, 736 Fed. App’x 618 (9th Cir. 2018) (in which a California
corrections officer threw an inmate’s Qur’an to the floor, stomped on it with his boot, and kicked
it under a bunk bed).
214 Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights (Prisoner Complaint) at 5, Ealom v. United States, 2018
WL 1899125 (D. Kan. Feb. 28, 2018) (No. 5:18-cv-03045); Muslim Civil Rights Group Raises Concerns
with Leavenworth Prison for Harassment and Discrimination, MUSLIM ADVOCATES (Sept. 12, 2018),
http://muslimadvocates.org/2018/09/muslim-civil-rights-group-raises-concerns-withleavenworth-prison-harassment-and-discrimination.
215 Kans. Dep’t Corr., IMPP10-110D, at 4 (Jan. 30, 2018).
194
195

59

Religious/Spiritual Programming, Mo. Dep’t Corr., IS17-1.1, at 12-13 (Jan. 18, 2015). Nevada in
contrast only allows folks with declared faith via declaration form keep personal religious
property allowed for that faith. Religious Practice Manual, Nev. Dep’t Corr., at 27 (Sept. 5, 2017).
217 Development and Delivery of Religious Services, Ind. Dep’t Corr., No 01-03-101, at 29 (Jan. 1, 2018).
218 Religious Services Handbook, Mass. Dep’t Corr., at 63 (Jan. 2018).
219 Religious Services Manual, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., OPS.140.0002, app. 4, at 27
(Mar. 20, 2017) (Faith Group Accommodations Overview).
220 Inmate Religion, S.C. Dep’t Corr., PS-10.05, at 16, 19 (Aug. 6, 2015).
221 Religious Programs, D.C. Dep’t Corr., PP 4410.1H, at 1 (Jan. 31, 2019).
222 Religious Program, Haw. Dep’t Corr., Pol. No. COR 12.05, at 16 (May 3, 2017).
223 Inmate Religious Activities/Marriage Requests, Ariz. Dep’t Corr. DO 904, at 2 (June 11, 2016).
224 Religious Programming and Diets, N.H. Dep’t Corr., PPD 7.17, at 5 (Oct. 15, 2017).
225 Food Service Procedures, N.M. Corr. Dep’t, CD-150900, at 3, 5-6 (Oct. 31, 2018).
226 Male Property Matrix, Conn. Dep’t Corr., Dir. 6.10 attach. C/3 (Dec. 29, 2014),
http://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DOC/Pdf/Ad/ad0610attcmalepdf.pdf?la=en; Female Property
Matrix, Conn. Dep’t Corr., Dir. 6.10 attach. B/2 (Dec. 29, 2014), http://portal.ct.gov//media/DOC/Pdf/Ad/ad0610attbfemalepdf.pdf?la=en; Religious Services, Conn. Dep’t Corr.,
Dir. 10.8, at 3 (Dec. 3, 2018).
227 Special Housing Units, N.Y. State Dep’t Corr. & Comm. Supervision, No. 4933, at 7 (Apr. 18,
2019).
228 Literature, Ark. Dep’t Corr., Policy & Proc. – Rel. Servs. No. 705 (Aug. 1, 2017).
229 Kentucky Department of Corrections Religious Reference Manual, Ky. Dep’t Corr., at 8 (May 2,
2008).
230 Religious Personal Property Matrix, Cal. Div. Adult Ops. (June 27, 2013),
http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Regulations/Adult_Operations/docs/DOM/DOM%202018/RELIGIO
US-PERSONAL-PROPERTY-MATRIX-12-9-13.pdf.
231 Religious Programs, Wash. Dep’t Corr., DOC 560.200, at 10 (Feb. 17, 2014).
232 Inmate Religious Items, Or. Admin. R. 291-143-0110 (Nov. 1, 2017).
233 Religious Beliefs and Practices of Prisoners, Mich. Dep’t Corr., PD 05.03.150, at 4 (Oct. 15, 2015);
Segregation Standards, Mich. Dep’t Corr., PD 04.05.120, at 6 (Sept. 27, 2010).
234 Religious Services Manual, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., OPS.140.0002, at 27 (Mar. 20,
2017).
235 Religious Programs and Practices, N.Y. State Dep’t Corr. & Comm. Supervision, No. 4202, at 7
(Oct. 19, 2015).
236 Id.
237 Religious Activities, Or. Admin. R. 291-143-0080(3) (2017).
238 The numbers provided are a snapshot of July 31, 2018. Frequency of Religion of Confined
Population as of 31 Jul 2018, Ariz. Dep’t Corr. (Oct. 16, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates)
(identifying 1291 prisoners with “Islam Muslim”).
239 The numbers provided are a snapshot of October 25, 2018. ADC Inmates by Religion as of 10-252018, Ark. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 1193 prisoners with “Islam”
and 777 with “Muslim”). Note that the total in Table 1 omits 582 prisoners with unknown
preferences.
240 “Demographics CY2017,” Religion Data Final, Colo. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim
Advocates) (identifying 26 inmates as “Moorish Science Temple of America” and 257 as
“Islam/Muslim”). Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
216

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http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 20 thousand in 2017).
241 Memo from Anthony J. Bruno, Dir. of Religious Servs., Conn. Dep’t Corr., to Monica Rinaldi,
Dir. of Programs and Treatment, Conn. Dep’t Corr. (Oct. 8, 2013) (on file with Muslim
Advocates). 18 percent of the prison population declared “no religion” or refused to provide any
information. This population is included in the total population figure. Also note the responsive
record provided may include the Connected jail population. Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING
PROJECT (2019), http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison
population at close to 12 thousand in 2013).
242 The numbers provided were labeled “total for the year.” We add together Muslim (365)
Moorish (150) and Sunni Muslim (717). Count of PCP, D.C. Dep’t Corr. (July 23, 2018). For
comparison purposes, the average daily population in the DOC and the Central Detention
Facility in 2017 was 3,181. DC Department of Corrections Facts and Figures, D.C. Dep’t Corr. 5 (Apr.
2017),
http://doc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doc/publication/attachments/DC%20Departm
ent%20of%20Corrections%20Facts%20and%20Figures%20April%202017.pdf.
243 The numbers provided are a snapshot of the Level V (Incarceration) Population on July 10,
2018, does not include Level IV (“quasi incarceration”). Response to Items #5 and #8, Del. Dep’t
Corr. (July 19, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
244 The numbers provided are a snapshot of March 31, 2018. Religious Preference Statewide, Fla.
Dep’t Corr. (June 5, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 12 prisoners with
“Muslim, Sufi”; 23 with “Muslim, Shiite”; 40 with “Moorish Science”; 205 with “Muslim, Sunni”;
658 with “Nation of Islam”; and 3,969 with “Muslim”). Cf. Detailed State Data, Sentencing Project
(2019), http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison
population at close to 98 thousand in 2017).
245 The numbers provided are a snapshot of February 1, 2019, self-reported at entry to prison, all
active inmates. See Inmate Statistical Profile: All Active Inmates, Ga. Dep’t Corr. 8 (Feb. 1, 2019)
(identifying 1,485 prisoners with “Islam.”),
http://www.gdc.ga.gov/sites/all/themes/gdc/pdf/Profile_all_inmates_2019_01.pdf. Note that
1,638 prisoners reported “None” as a religious affiliation, while a total of 30,994 prisoners either
were not asked or for some reason failed to report on their religious preferences. We include in
the total those reporting “none” but omit the unreported prisoners from the total. Cf. Detailed
State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019), http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail,
(pinning the state prison population at close to 53 thousand in 2017).
246 IDOC Religious Activities 2010-2017, Idaho Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates)
(identifying 7 prisoners with “Islam”; and 12 with “Black Muslim”). Note that the total in the
Table omits unreported data for 4,628 prisoners. Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT
(2019), http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison
population at close to 8 thousand in 2017).
247 The numbers provided are as of June 27, 2018. Resident Characteristics by Religion, Ill. Dep’t
Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 3,579 prisoners with “Al Islam”; 300 with “AlIslam (Muslim)”; 807 with “Moorish Science Temple”; 1 with “Mrish Sci Tmpl Amer Rein” (sic);
338 with “Nation of Islam”; and 352 with “Nation of God and Earth”). The responsive record
provided may include the Illinois jail population. Cf. Detailed State Data, Sentencing Project (2019),
http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
roughly 41 thousand and the jail population at 21 thousand in 2017).

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The numbers provided are as of July 2, 2018. Religion and Select Demographics by Snapshot Date,
Ind. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (Excel spreadsheet on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 2,057
prisoners as “Muslim” and 837 prisoners as “MSTA/Moor”).
249 The numbers provided are from a snapshot at the end of fiscal year June 30, 2018. Fiscal Year
2018 Population Incarcerated: Gender by Religion Preference (self-reported), Kan. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on
file with Muslim Advocates). Note that the total in the Table omits prisoners whose religious
tradition is marked “unknown.” Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 10 thousand in 2017).
250 2018 Religion Count, Ky. Dep’t Corr. (Dec. 17, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates)
(identifying 673 prisoners as “Islam”; 70 as “Muslim”; and 48 as “Nation of Islam”).
251 The numbers provided are from a snapshot of August 6, 2018. Religious Preference Totals for
Department, Md. Dep’t Pub. Safety & Corr. (Aug. 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates)
(identifying 5 prisoners as “Islam Supreme Grand Res. Moorish”; 2,973 as “Islam Sunni”; 5 as
“Islam Shi’a”; 235 as “Islam Nation of Islam – Lost-Found”; 1,038 as Islam Nation of Islam –
Farrakhan; 33 as “Islam Nation of Islam – Caliph Muhammad”; 513 as Islam Moorish Temple of
America”; 183 as “Islam Moorish Small Circle”; and 99 as “Islam”). Note that the total in the
Table omits unlisted data for 58 prisoners.
252 The numbers provided are from a snapshot of March. 26, 2018. Active Population Religions 3-262018, Mass. Dep’t Corr. (identifying 579 prisoners as “Islam”; 114 as “Nation of Islam”; and 81 as
“Nation of Gods and Earth”). Note that the total in the Table omits unreported data for 86
prisoners.
253 2017 Total Prisoner Faith Preferences, Mich. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates)
(identifying 2,406 prisoners as “Moorish Science Temple”; 2,163 as “Islam”; and 2,847 as “Nation
of Islam”).
254 The numbers provided are as of July 1, 2018. Adult Prison Population Summary, Minn. Dep’t
Corr. (2018),
http://mn.gov/doc/assets/Minnesota%20Department%20of%20Corrections%20Adult%20Priso
n%20Population%20Summary%207-1-2018_tcm1089-347924.pdf.
255 The numbers provided are as of June 23, 2018. Active Inmate Population by Religious Preference,
Miss. Dep’t Corr. (June 23, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 684 prisoners as
“Islam” and 1 as “Suni” (sic)).
256 The numbers provided are as of September 7, 2018. Declared Religion of Incarcerated Offenders by
Gender, Mo. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 1840 prisoners as
“Al-Islam/Muslim”; 70 as “Moorish”; 780 as “Moorish Science Temple of America”; 120 as
“Muslim”; 348 as “Nation of Islam”; and 2 as “Sufi”).
257 The numbers provided are as of August 15, 2018. NDCS Religions, Neb. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on
file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 1 prisoner as “Al-Islam”; 155 as “Islam/Muslim”; 19 as
“Moorish Science Temple”; 157 as “Muslim/Islam”; and 1 as “Nation of Islam”). Note that the
total in the Table omits unlisted data for 348 prisoners.
258 Faith Groups 2014 & 2015, Nev. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 632
prisoners as “Islam” and 16 as “Moorish Science Temple”). Note that the total in the Table omits
unlisted data for 1070 prisoners. Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 14 thousand in 2017).
248

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The numbers provided are as of August 7, 2018. NH Correctional Facility for Women – Client
Religion Report, N.H. Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 7, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 3
inmates as “Muslim” out of 170 total prisoners, though of the total population, 56 had
“unknown” religious preferences); NH State Prison for Men – Client Religion Report, N.H. Dep’t
Corr. (Aug. 7, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 91 inmates as “Muslim” and 5
inmates as “Nation of Islam” out of 1,391 total prisoners, though of the total population, 117 had
“unknown” religious preferences); Northern NH Correctional Facility – Client Religion Report, N.H.
Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 7, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 52 inmates as “Muslim”
and 3 inmates as “Nation of Islam” out of 640 total prisoners, though of the total population, 53
had “unknown” religious preferences); Secure Psychiatric Unit – Client Religion Report, N.H. Dep’t
Corr. (Aug. 7, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 3 inmates as “Muslim” out of 75
total prisoners, though of the total population, 23 had “unknown” religious preferences). The
New Hampshire Department of Corrections also operates three Transitional Housing Units and
One Transitional Work Center. Community Corrections, N.H. Dep’t of Corrections,
http://www.nh.gov/nhdoc/divisions/community/index.html (last visited Feb. 26, 2019). As of
August 7, 2018, there were 291 individuals incarcerated in these facilities, 13 of whom are
identified as Muslim, though of the total population, 51 had “unknown” religious references.
Community Corrections – Client Religion Report, N.H. Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 7, 2018) (on file with
Muslim Advocates). Because New Hampshire is the only state for which Muslim Advocates has
religious preference data on individuals in such transitional units, the figure has little comparison
value and is not included in the total figures listed in this report.
260 The numbers provided are as of June 21, 2018. Inmate Management Religion Report, N.J. Dep’t
Corr. (June 21, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
261 Security Level and Facility by Religious Affiliation, N.Y. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim
Advocates) (identifying 6015 prisoners as “Islam” and 1823 as “Nation of Islam”). Note that the
total in the Table omits 6,926 prisoners listed as having unknown preferences. Cf. Detailed State
Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019), http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning
the state prison population at close to 50 thousand in 2017).
262 It is unclear what the numbers provided to our record request represent, but it could be total
admits over many years, or could be a snapshot that includes parolees. The state’s responsive
records on religious preference are dated Dec. 31, 2018 and also report a “frequency missing” of
about 75 thousand. Statistics Request: Offender Religious Preferences 2018 N.C. Dep’t Public Safety
(Feb. 21, 2019) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 1417 prisoners as “Moorish Science”
and 3858 as “Islamic”). Note also that the total in the Table omits 9,884 prisoners whose
preferences were unknown. But see Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 35 thousand in 2017).
263 The number provided is total admissions for the year. Admissions 2010 through 2018, N.D.
Dep’t Corr. (June 7, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 20 admissions as
“Muslim” and 3 as “Islam.” Note that the total in the Table omits 18 prisoners for whom religious
preference data was unavailable.
264 Religious Preference Counts 2018, Ohio Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates)
(identifying 263 prisoners as “Islam-Formerly Black Muslim”; 30 as “Islam (Shiite)”; 1804 as
“Islam”; 52 as “Islam (Hanafi)”; 209 as “Islam (Moorish Science)”; 278 as “Islam (Nation of
Islam)”; and 770 as “Islam (Sunni)”). Note that the total in the Table omits 8,556 prisoners whose
preferences were unavailable. Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
259

63

http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 51 thousand in 2017).
265 The number provided is as of year-end. See Response to Items 5 and 6, Penn. Dep’t Corr. (2018)
(on file with Muslim Advocates).
266 Admissions for 2017 captures the self-identified religion of prisoners admitted in 2017, not all
prisoners in custody in 2017. Copy of Sent Commits 1-10 to 8-18, R.I. Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 2018) (on file
with Muslim Advocates). Rhode Island reports show a significant number of releases each year,
see generally Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Population Report, R.I. Dep’t Corr. (Oct. 2017), which helps
explain why the total prison population is closer to 2,000, see Detailed State Data, SENTENCING
PROJECT (2019), http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison
population at close to 2 thousand in 2017).
267 The numbers provided are for all prisoners in SCDC custody at any time for any length of stay
between Jan. 1 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017. FOIA for Records Request Item 6, S.C. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on
file with Muslim Advocates). Note that the total in the Table may include parolees, jail, or other
populations, as the number provided appears high given state numbers available through the
Sentencing Project. Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 20 thousand in 2017).
268 The numbers provided are as of December 31, 2017. Letter from Denny Kaemingk, Cabinet
Sec’y, S.D. Dep’t Corr., to Joseph Saei, Legal Fellow, Muslim Advocates (Aug. 14, 2018).
269 The numbers provided are as of June 30, 2018. Texas DOC Records Request, Tex. Dep’t Crim.
Justice (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates). Cf. Detailed State Data, SENTENCING PROJECT (2019),
http://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#detail, (pinning the state prison population at
close to 158 thousand in 2017).
270 Religion Data by Several Variables – 2010 through July 12, 2018, Utah Dep’t Corr. (2018) (Excel
spreadsheet on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 136 prisoners as “Islamic/Muslim”).
271 The numbers provided are as of approximately August 14, 2018. Current Population, Religion,
Vt. Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 14, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 20 prisoners as
“Islam”; 1 as “Islam-Nation of Islam, Lost-Found”; 3 as “Islam-Other”; 1 as “Islam-Shi’s” (sic);
and 5 as “Islam Sunni”). Note that the total in the Table omits 834 prisoners for whom religious
preference is unlisted.
272 The numbers provided are as of June 30, 2018. DAI-Wide Religious Preference over Time, Wisc.
Dep’t Corr. (June 30, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
273 Frequency of Religion 2010-2018, Ariz. Dep’t Corr. (Oct. 16, 2018) (on file with Muslim
Advocates).
274 The numbers provided are the running total for 2017 (not total Muslim prisoners in custody,
but total submitted as “Muslim” or “Moorish Science” for that year). Religion Data Final, Colo.
Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates).
275 For purposes of this chart, we lump together Muslim, Moorish, and Sunni Muslim prisoners.
Count of PCP, D.C. Dep’t Corr. (July 23, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
276 The numbers provided reflect religious affiliation self-reported at entry to prison during that
calendar year only. Profiles of Inmate Admissions: Archived Annual Reports, Ga. Dep’t Corr. (2016),
http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/Research/Annual_CY_profile_inmate_admissions (click “archived
annual reports”).
277 Religion and Select Demographics by Snapshot Date, Ind. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (Excel spreadsheet on
file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying prisoners as “Muslim” and “MSTA/Moor”).

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Fiscal Year 2010- 2018 Population Incarcerated: Gender by Religion Preference (self-reported), Kan.
Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates). Note that the total in the Table omits
prisoners whose religious tradition is marked “unknown.”
279 2010-2018 Religion Count, Ky. Dep’t Corr. (Dec. 17, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
280 2010-2017 Total Prisoner Faith Preferences, Mich. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim Advocates).
281 The numbers provided snapshots for each year on January 1st. Historical Offender Population
Summary Reports, Minn. Dep’t Corr. (2019), http://mn.gov/doc/data-publications/offenderstatistics/historical-population-summary-reports.
282 Declared Religion of Incarcerated Offenders 2010-2017, Mo. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim
Advocates). For the 2018 row, see supra note 256.
283 Security Level and Facility by Religious Affiliation, N.Y. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim
Advocates). Note that the total in the Table omits prisoners whose preferences are marked
“unknown” or “missing.”
284 The numbers provided were marked year-end. Response to Items 5 and 6, Penn. Dep’t Corr.
(2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
285 The numbers provided are for all prisoners in SCDC custody at any time for any length of stay
between Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017. FOIA for Records Request Item 6, S.C. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on
file with Muslim Advocates).
286 The numbers provided are as of December 31, 2017. Letter from Denny Kaemingk, Cabinet
Sec’y, S.D. Dep’t Corr., to Joseph Saei, Legal Fellow, Muslim Advocates (Aug. 14, 2018).
287 Texas DOC Records Request, Tex. Dep’t Crim. Justice (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
288 Religion Data by Several Variables – 2010 through July 12, 2018, Utah Dep’t Corr. (2018) (Excel
spreadsheet on file with Muslim Advocates).
289 The numbers provided are snapshots from November 18, 2013, September 14, 2014, December
31, 2015 December 31, 2016, and December 31 2017. DAI-Wide Religious Preference over Time, Wisc.
Dep’t Corr. (June 30, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
290 “Demographics CY2018,” Religion Data Final, Colo. Dep’t Corr. (on file with Muslim
Advocates) (identifying 5 inmates who are women as “Islam/Muslim,” 159 inmates who are men
as “Islam/Muslim,” and 10 inmates who are men as “Moorish Science Temple of America” out of
571 total prisoners who are women and 2,946 total prisoners who are men.)
291 The numbers provided are a snapshot of the Level V (Incarceration) Population on July 10,
2018, does not include Level IV (“quasi incarceration”). Response to Items #5 and #8, Del. Dep’t
Corr. (July 19, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
292 The numbers provided reflect self-reported preference at entry to prison. See Inmate Statistical
Profile: All Active Inmates, Ga. Dep’t Corr. 8 (Feb. 1, 2019),
http://www.gdc.ga.gov/sites/all/themes/gdc/pdf/Profile_all_inmates_2019_01.pdf; see supra
note 245.
293 The numbers provided reflect snapshots at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2018. The
percentage of Muslim-identifying women increased from 3.09% in 2010 to 6.72% in 2018, while
the absolute number of Muslim women jumped from 15 to 51 in the same period. See Fiscal Year
2010-18 Population Incarcerated: Gender by Citizenship/Nationality (Self-Reported), Kan. Dep’t Corr.
(2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
294 The numbers provided are as of September 7, 2018. Declared Religion of Incarcerated Offenders by
Gender, Mo. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 1840 prisoners as
“Al-Islam/Muslim”;70 as “Moorish”; 780 as “Moorish Science Temple of America”; 120 as
“Muslim”; 348 as “Nation of Islam”; and 2 as “Sufi”).
278

65

NDCS Religions, Nebraska Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 15, 2018) (due to summary purpose of this chart, I
lump together “Al-Islam” “Moorish Science Temple” “Muslim/Islam” and “Nation of Islam”
subgroups) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
296 The numbers provided are as of August 7, 2018. NH Correctional Facility for Women – Client
Religion Report, N.H. Dep’t Corr. (Aug. 7, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates) (identifying 3
inmates as “Muslim” out of 170 total prisoners, though of the total population, 56 had
“unknown” religious preferences). Note that the total in the Table omits prisoners whose
preference is marked “unknown.” Also note that the Table does not include inmates held in the
Secure Psychiatric Unit, as that unit holds both men and women and the report does not separate
inmates by sex.
297 The numbers provided were marked year-end. The percentage of Muslim-identifying women
slightly decreased from 9.6% in 2010 to 7.89% in 2018. See Response to Items 5 and 6, Penn. Dep’t
Corr. (2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
298 The numbers provided are for all prisoners in SCDC custody at any time for any length of stay
between Jan. 1 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017.The percentage of Muslim women increased from 1.6% in
2010 to 1.83% in 2018. FOIA for Records Request Item 6, S.C. Dep’t Corr. (2018) (on file with Muslim
Advocates).
299 The numbers provided are as of June 30, 2018. The percentage of Muslim women decreased
slightly from 2.74% in 2010 to 2.33% in 2018. Texas DOC Records Request, Tex. Dep’t Crim. Justice
(2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
300 Religion Data by Several Variables – 2010 through July 12, 2018, Utah Dep’t Corr. (2018) (Excel
spreadsheet on file with Muslim Advocates).
301 Religious Preference by Site, Wisc. Dep’t Corr. (June 30, 2018) (on file with Muslim Advocates).
The men’s number only includes “male institutions” not “male centers.”
302 See supra Appendix A, Table 1.
295

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