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Religious freedom in prison - Research Paper Example

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Inmates have a constitutional right to religious freedom. Allowing them this freedom will facilitate behavioral change that streams from internal conviction rather than external factors…
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Religious freedom in prison
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Download file to see previous pages However, the court rulings set limitations to the right of worship when a prisoner’s demand of worship endangers prison safety and function. Almost all correction facilities offer these structures mainly for religious faiths such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Chaplains and volunteers provide pastoral care to prisoners and wardens (Livingstone 313). Allowing inmates freedom of worship has both positive and negative implications. However, prisoners’ right of worship should be granted because it benefits them and it is their constitutional right. Inmates should be allowed to worship within established structures provided by prison programs and religious organizations.
The disadvantage of freedom of worship according to the government is it may endanger prisoners’ the lives. The law limits freedom of worship if it interferes with safety of the prisoners/wardens and prison operations. When this happens, the government can deny the right of worship for the greater good of all citizens. However, the government uses this clause to abuse prisoners’ rights (Livingstone 310). For example, a case where a Muslim prisoner wanted to retain his long beard for religious purposes was upheld by the Supreme Court. Gregory Holt, the prisoner, had requested the prison to allow him grow a half-inch beard as a religious practice. The prison officials denied the request claiming security reasons of inmates smuggling contrabands in beards. Judge Samuel Alito said since prisoners were allowed to grow long hair on their heads, the prison systems should allow religious beards like Gregory’s. In this case, the prison authorities denied the prisoner his right without good reasons. Prison authority may restrain the right of worship for security reasons but should have concrete reasons or concerns for the restriction.
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