Inmates, Vermont prisons in conflict over Muslim prayer services

In: Burlington Free Press
Nov. 28, 2011

An inmate’s right to practice his religion is well-worn territory in Vermont’s prisons.

In 1994, Muslim inmates at the St. Albans prison complained they had to fight for their right to practice their religion. Prison officials said the issue represented growing pains as they became accustomed to an increasingly diverse population.

In 2007, the state, which was under pressure from national religious rights groups, changed its rules to allow inmates to attend any religious service of their choosing.
In 2008, the state paid a $25,000 settlement to a Jewish inmate who accused the prison of denying him kosher food for Passover.

So it would seem in 2011 that inmates’ access to weekly prayer services would be well-established.
Not so, said inmate Gregory Sierras, a Muslim who said he and other inmates this year have had to fight for their right to hold Friday prayer services and receive pre-dawn and after-dusk meals during Ramadan in the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport.

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