Religious Freedom Is for All Americans

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As the final week of Ramadan approaches, it is important to remember that freedom of religion is for all Americans – including those who are incarcerated. And that the ACLU is committed to defending the civil liberties of all Americans.

Last week, the ACLU helped secure the right of a Muslim inmate to practice his religion in a Washington state jail. Jail authorities had denied the inmate access to halal meals, as well as accommodations for Ramadan fasting that would have allowed him to receive meals at night, during non-fasting hours. Because the inmate refused to violate his religious beliefs by breaking his fast, he went without food for six days. Ultimately, the ACLU was able to persuade the jail to reinstate for the inmate accommodations for Ramadan and halal food. 

Our work at this jail is part of the ACLU's ongoing efforts to protect the religious rights of inmates across the state. Religious accommodations may include access to religious diets, texts, and items for worship, as well as access to facilities for group prayer and observance of religious holidays. Because incarcerated individuals already have limited freedom to exercise their religion, the need to protect their religious rights from unnecessary governmental intrusion remains high.