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[Abuse] [Religious Repression] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting Sanitary Conditions, Grooming Court Victory in Texas

In the William P. Clements Prison unit in Amarillo, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is now selling us 50 sheets of low quality paper on commissary for $1.80. Here in the extended cell block, High Security A.K.A. Segregation, we have showers in our cells. They only come on 15 minutes per day. We are only issued a clean towel 3 times per week: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. So we go Saturday, Sunday and Monday on the same towel.

Here's the problem. Once you are done with your shower the spray covers at least 1/3 of your cell. If you use this towel to dry all this grey water up you no longer have a towel suitable to dry your body off the next day after a shower. If we get caught with a second towel for use in this purpose we receive a disciplinary case for extra necessities. I personally grieved this issue and it was denied because policy states we're only allowed one towel at a time. This is a sanitary issue.

These are just some of the injustices we see here in the Texas department of Criminal Justice. On another level though Texas inmates just won a small victory when the federal courts ruled TDCJ was violating our religious rights by making prisoners of certain faiths shave or cut their hair, like Rastafarians, Native Americans, Muslims, Amish, and Jews. We are still waiting for the change in grooming policy but we won.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Compared to some of the brutality, long-term isolation, and medical neglect, lack of a clean towel may seem like a minor issue facing Amerikan prisoners. But it is these minor issues that really illustrate the irrationality of the prisons in this country. Why would it be a disciplinary case for a prisoner to have a second towel to keep his cell clean? How could this good hygiene practice be dangerous or otherwise problematic? Prisons withold small "privileges" like this as an arbitrary form of punishment. There is no educational or reform purpose. There is just a long list of such actions adding up to unsanitary, disrespectful, unstimulating, and counter productive living conditions (when prisoners aren't being beaten, tortured, starved, or otherwise physically abused).

Prisoners will come together to fight for these minor issues, as we see with this court victory for religious expression with haircuts in Texas. It is our job as revolutionaries to take these small battles and use them as educational opportunities to show others how these issues fit into the broader system of imperialism where prisons are used as a tool of social control.

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[Censorship] [Religious Repression] [Lovelock Correctional Center] [Nevada]
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Religious Material Censored

On 27 November 2013 the mailroom at Lovelock Corr Center received from the U.S. post office mail that was addressed to me and sent from the National Catholic Council on Addiction. It included a letter with a 2014 calendar and a catholic prayer book. I received an unauthorized mail notification saying it was not from an approved vendor. On 7 December 2013, I was told to either pay to send it out or they would dispose of it. I am an indigent inmate so sending it out is not an option.

How is the Catholic church not an approved vendor? When I approached the prison chaplain all I was told was "oh it's only a book". I guess as an inmate our faith has no meaning. I would love to see the free world's reaction if it were their prayer book and the government took it from them and destroyed it.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we don't think that Catholic books and calendars are doing anything positive for the revolutionary struggle, we print this letter as an example of the ridiculous mail policies found in Amerikan prisons. Censorship is generally targetted at political organizations, particularly those like MIM(Prisons) which are educating prisoners about the criminal injustice system and helping them to organize to fight for their rights. But we have seen basic educational material like dictionaries and law books rejected by the censors. And so this rejection of religious literature further proves that prisons are being used as tools of social control and punishment, not centers for rehabilitation. For this reason, we oppose all censorship of mail in the prisons and encourage prisoners to fight these unjust policies by filing grievances, and taking it to court if needed. Ask for our guide to fighting censorship in prison for more information on this.

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[Organizing] [Religious Repression] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 30]
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Indigenous Group Takes Up Revolutionary Organizing on Death Row

I write this missive from the bowels of California's Death Row (DR), at San Quentin. Just wanted to give an update at what is going on and the progress we are making in regards to a wide area of issues which the condemned population has been experiencing.

Being an Indigenous person, we have been in a long struggle with the San Quentin administration and California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr) in regards to DR captives being afforded access to Sweat Lodge ceremonies. Our rights are grossly violated by denying the access of Indigenous persons to the right to practice their religion/culture. In the administration's eyes, to have sweat ceremonies available to the DR population creates a serious "security risk." Each time the CDCr screams "security risk," the United Snakes courts fall into stride with the department's assumptions, allowing refusal of Sweat ceremonies, Pipe ceremonies, and access to smudging with sacred Native American medicines. "Safety & security" is an honored mantra here at San Quentin. Stripping us of our culture, religion, and traditions has been the norm for centuries for ALL oppressed nation peoples. It is obvious that no matter what we fight for, the CDCr views it as "Gang Activity/Disruptive." There are comrades that have been stuck in the infamous Adjustment Center (the Control Units) for over a life time simply because they decided to speak up and push back for what they feel they deserve and what they have a right to actually have.

In this situation, the administration dangles privileges in front of the captive, in order to make them do as they say, not as they do. Comrades are being forced to remain in cages away from other DR captives, being denied any sunlight or room to stretch their legs, because the administration feels that they are "too violent" to be placed on a programmed group yard where they can have fellowship with others, get some sunlight, and take a hot shower. This treatment is barbaric and uncalled for.

The institutional appeals office is no help. They are refusing to process any of these prisoners' 602s (grievances) by simply throwing their appeals away, or "losing" them until the time constraints to file on a certain issue have run out, preventing them from going any further with their grievances. Captives with a full program label are being subjected to disciplinary conditions, because the administration can do whatever they want. These comrades are pushing for the same fair treatment as any other DR captive who has privileges.

Due to the budget cuts, programs here have been cut in half. Education is almost non-existent, and yard days have been cut. Visits are being supervised by sergeants who violate Title 15 guidelines, and the captives as well as our families suffer. Medical is suppose to be monitored, but even that has failed to meet its mark. The treatment of DR captives is going from bad to worse.

After the Hunger Strikes here in California, the CDCr implemented a new rule, that anybody that participates in any type of strike will be placed in the SHU (Security Housing Units) for good. Those who participate will be "validated" as a member of a disruptive group, even if one is not gang related. The DR administration went crazy with that new rule. They ignore the fact that the last actual murder that took place here was almost 12 years ago. They have made comments to media that they have succeeded in finally having full control of the condemned population, and call this place "The Safest Prison in the State."

They use tactics of mental torture. They take and give back, then take and give again. It is a mental game and it has driven many good brothers to snap and completely lose their minds. I do not find that to be a weakness in them, nor is it their fault. It is the fault of the pigs here for the games they play. I fault the captives for allowing their minds to be stretched so far without assisting one another instead of sleeping with the enemy and snitching on each other. There are more snitches than crickets at midnight here, and sadly they are blind to the fact that when it is time for the needle to hit the vein, it will be done by the very pigs they blindly befriended while they were here.

So, with that said, a few other solid comrades and myself have decided to up the ante and are holding study groups. We struggle on a daily basis like the rest of our comrades around the U.$., and decided that the only way to begin to break this chain of ignorance is to teach and guide the ones who have the desire to overcome this oppression "by any means necessary." Along with the education we are receiving from MIM(Prisons)/ULK, we have formed a small movement that we hope will reach beyond the walls of this shit hole. We are the IPLF.

The IPLF (Indigenous Peoples Liberation Front) is composed of comrades from all walks of life, willing to stand firm on the front lines and fight as warriors against the (in)justice system. We are a selected few, pushing to break the chains of systematic oppression of any and all kinds. We are human beings, not animals, and not terrorists. We are a movement choosing to follow MIM theory, and assist our comrades in any way possible.

The IPLF will take part in the Day of Solidarity & Peace on September 9, 2013, and will take that day to focus on what needs to be done here on the row that will have a positive outcome. And if we end up in the hole, then fuck it! We ride or die for the cause! To all my comrades out there, to all our sisters out there - A-HO!

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[Religious Repression] [Lovelock Correctional Center] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 26]
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Religious Repression and Retaliation Against Grievances at Lovelock

Pursuits of justice for religious rights are maliciously being hampered and restricted within the Lovelock Correction Center (LCC) in Lovelock, Nevada. Prisoners fighting religious repression are becoming victims of retaliatory transfers to the maximum security High Desert State Prison; a facility reputed for physical abuse, assaults, and beatings by its staff. High Desert State Prison has been and continues to be a deterrent to and punishment for filing grievances and lawsuits against the misconduct and constitutional violations being perpetrated and committed by LCC staff.

In 2009 six prisoners housed at the LCC were transferred to High Desert State Prison after filing grievances against Lovelock staff for destroying the worship place of their earth-based religious practices.

In 2011 a single individual was also transferred to HDSP for his pursuits against the Nevada Department of Corrections in relation to his Jewish practices and the LCC law library conditions.

Most recently, on March 6 2012 SAMAEL lost a member after he was transferred to HDSP. This prisoner had recently filed suit against several Lovelock CC staff in response to religious discrimination and abuse. Threats of retaliation and actual events of retaliation are an ongoing and increasingly recurring tool of intimidation and abuse used by the Lovelock staff as well as at other Nevada institutions. Toleration of such actions must be eliminated and opposition must arise from the ranks of all voices willing to scream justice! Justice! Justice!

SAMAEL speaks out and calls for aid against retaliation. One's voice may be heard, but many will cause revolution! Let your voice join in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is another good example of the failure of the grievance systems in Amerikan prisons, which pretend to offer prisoners a way to fight for their legal rights and hold prison administrators to their own rules. In reality the grievance process often only serves to identify the "troublemakers" who expect prisons to follow their own policies and are willing to speak out when this is not done. Then grievances can be ignored and prisoners filing them punished for their efforts.

Even though this is how filing grievances plays out in many circumstances, we also know from our own experience that “playing by the rules" occasionally leads to significant improvements, although often temporary, in our ability to organize for our ultimate goals.

While our movement is too weak to take on the oppressors in armed struggle to overthrow the underlying causes of the corrupt grievance systems, we must continue to use legal means of redress to make and keep space for our movement to grow. This is why we have supported a grievance campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. We have petitions for the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. Write to us for a copy, or if you are in a state without a petition volunteer to modify a generic petition to meet the legal requirements of your state. To get involved, see USW campaign info here.

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[Idealism/Religion] [Religious Repression] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 48]
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South Carolina Offers Prisoners Religion or Starvation

I am a prisoner in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), where the prisoners are forced to march around in filthy, tattered uniforms, and most are packed three to a cell, with one sleeping on the floor. But in addition to a huge list of miserable conditions here, the state has a sickening carrot-and-stick method of converting prisoners to Christianity.

Our cafeteria basically serves dog food, and even that is withheld from prisoners as punishment for minor rule infractions. The prison only serves real nutritious food to prisoners who have attended a certain number of religious indoctrination programs. This amounts to many prisoners not being able to eat well unless they convert to Christianity and jump through all kinds of Jesus-themed hoops.

Prisoners are also being recruited, in the guise of "education," into an indoctrination and training program that eventually ships them to other prisons to proselytize and spread Christian propaganda. As a requirement, new recruits must sign a paper that declares their willingness to be transferred to any prison SCDC desires. Often prisoners sign up for this program to temporarily escape the violent conditions at other prisons, only to be returned to the same brutal dungeons after completing the program. In such institutions, prisoners are commonly beaten, stabbed, and raped. Who wouldn't sign up for the Christian fascist training program to escape that?

It all amounts to the prisoners being coerced into religious social control programs. And many of us must choose between going to church or going hungry; between being indoctrinated or being beaten, stabbed, or raped.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is typical of the Amerikkkan criminal injustice system to force feed their approved form of "education" on prisoners while denying them real education through censorship or just refusal to offer programs. Religion has a long history of being used as a tool of social control by obscuring the material conditions that determine our reality on Earth.

Many people ask us about religion because they have heard that communism is anti-religion. In some ways communism is the best way for religious people to uphold their beliefs and put an end to the evils of murder, rape, hunger and other miseries of humyns. Some argue that Jesus Christ must have been a communist because he gave to the poor.

An issue with religions, however, is that they uniformly reject scientific thinking. Religions require people to accept on faith that there is a higher power controlling life for humyns. So the first problem with religions is that they are fostering idealist thinking. Even those who do not believe in organized religion often look for answers in ideas, rather than a scientific study of the material world.

In addition, historically many religions have acted as apologists for the oppressor class in power, telling the oppressed people not to worry about their terrible conditions in this life because a better afterlife awaits them if they just suffer in silence. There are notable exceptions to this, including the liberation theologists of Latin America, some Muslim activists, and others.

Overall we see the best of the religious movements and groups as allies in the fight against imperialism. But we still caution people that religion, like television, is an opiate for the mind. Even worse, religion provides a philosophical justification for never searching for real solutions to the problems and contradictions we face. Belief in spirituality or religion is not a dividing line question to work with MIM(Prisons), and we accept into USW all who take up the anti-imperialist struggle. We will be honest in our push for everyone to study materialist thinking and why we oppose idealism.


Related Articles:
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[Download and Print] [Religious Repression] [Political Repression] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [Missouri]
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Downloadable Petition Against Violations of Constitution, Missouri

Missouri Petition
Click to Download PDF of Missouri Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure or censorship of music and literature. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Tom Clements, Director of Adult Institutions
P.O. Box 236
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Chris Pickering, Inspector General (MO DOC)
P.O. Box 236
Jefferson City, MO 65101

U.S. Department of Justice
PhB 950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Marianne Atwell, Director of Offender Rehabilitative Services (Missouri)
P.O. Box 236
Jerrerson City, MO 65101

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

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[Religious Repression] [Prison Labor] [Organizing] [LA State Penitentiary] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 17]
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Political Activism Killed by Religion in Louisiana

I have begun to receive ULK and I have not had any problems with censorship. There are not very many politically active people/groups here now, such as in California, so the mailroom is not hyperaware of radical political publications.

This was not always the case. Louisiana State Prison (Angola) in the 60s, 70s and 80s was a hotbed of political activism, primarily with the Black Panther Party. It was also considered one of the bloodiest prisons in America. Since the 90s it seems political activism/education has evaporated. This is mostly due (in my opinion) to the prison becoming admittedly more safe, the aging and death of the older inmate population (as the 60s and 70s were a universally more politically active time across America), and the current Warden. Warden Burl Cain has quite effectively turned the prison into a church, with even a 5-year seminary college funded by the Southern Baptists of America.

This has had an enormously detrimental impact on the prison population. There is no longer any prisoner solidarity (beyond the individual self-serving prison clubs and organizations) or any real political movement. Most (though not all) prisoners now play the religion game as a ticket to move up within the prison society and garner favor with the administration. In fact, to essentially get in any position of prisoner power - such as a club president or to work for the prison magazine The Angolite (which came to prominence under Wilbert Rideau) - you must be an active professed Christian.

The true harm in all of this is that there is no real rehabilitation or education within the prison now. Louisiana does not have parole for people sentenced to life and 90% of the 5000+ prisoners here at Angola will die in prison. This is a proven statistical fact even admitted by Louisiana DOC. The only option for lifers in Louisiana is the possibility for a sentence reduction by the pardon board. This is not a legitimate option though. It is extremely rare (once every 10-15 years) that they recommend a lifer for a sentence reduction and the governor signs it.

In the farce of this hopelessness, the warden has pushed the panacea of religion both to fight hopelessness, as well as the idea that if you garner enough favor and play the religion game well enough, you will be lucky when you go before the pardon board. The warden has made moves to place himself as an "advisor" to the pardon board to give recommendations as to who should be given a pardon (sentence reduction) and who not. This means you either toe the warden's line - be Christian, not exercise your rights, make no waves, become an informant to show you are "reformed" - or you essentially have no hope whatsoever of ever being granted relief by the pardon board. This includes those prisoners with lesser sentences who go before the parole board. The pardon and parole boards are one and the same.

All of this is a preamble to my real reason for writing this letter to you. I am attempting to re-energize a political base among the prisoner population. The most possible form this may take is by labor unionizing. Angola is one of the last great prison farms (18,000 acres for crops and cattle), along with places like Parchman in Mississippi. A good many of the prisoners here still perform agricultural labor. This food is primarily sold for private profit, not fed to us. This prisoner labor saves the state (and earns it) million of dollars, while prisoners receive little or no "incentive pay" or wages. Field workers earn 4 cents an hour or less, half of which (up to $250) must go into a "savings account" the prisoners may not use (except for a few narrow reasons) even if the prisoner is a lifer and will never get out to use his "savings." This money sits instead, in perpetuity, earning interest in DOC bank accounts for the state.

The only practical political force prisoners here may exert is by unionizing. Not only to work towards better living/working conditions in prison, but towards more just sentencing laws. Unionization as well creates a solidarity movement younger prisoners may never have experienced before which can prove fertile grounds for Marxist/Maoist education. It would be fitting to see such an agrarian Maoist movement take hold and grow here. Unionization and the educational benefits of a labor movement create the grounds for producing politically aware cadres, some who will remain in prison, but many who may return to their communities to expand the movement.

Consequently, it is my hope to recruit and develop a dedicated cadre of individuals here to research the possibility of a prisoner labor movement and further that idea by education and activism.

I have already circulated the introductory letter you sent to me describing MIM(Prisons)'s platform, as well as the first issue of ULK I have received. I further plan to enroll in your Maoist study cell. I have read and studied Marxism-Leninism for many years but am not as familiar with Maoism or how such Maoist principles may differ in form or function from Marxism. As I have always generally understood, Marxism-Leninism applied to an industrialized (to a large degree) proletariat, where as Maoism was an agrarian movement. I'm sure this may be a huge oversimplification. For that reason, I wish to educate myself more, with your help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this comrade's efforts to organize prison workers. Rather than a proletariat or peasantry, the U.$. prison population's relationship to production puts it squarely in the lumpen class, as we explained in a report on the U.$. prison economy. Prison labor is used to save the state money, as this comrade points out, in its excessively expensive project of imprisoning this class of people that capitalism has no use for. Therefore organizing prisoners to heighten the contradictions of the state in fiscal crisis is of great value. And there is no doubt that this organizing serves an excellent educational purpose as well.

Maoism is an advance on Marxism-Leninism that still bases itself in the revolutionary class of the proletariat but also sees the peasantry as a key ally to the proletariat in countries like China where the system is semi-feudal and the population is so dispersed in the agrarian countryside. While we can't just take this theory and apply it to farming in the U.$. where conditions are very different, the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) is still very relevant today. The dialectical materialist method teaches us to learn from the best that history has to offer (MLM) and apply it to our conditions today just as groups like the Black Panthers and Young Lords did with the lumpen before us.

The history of prison labor organizing at Angola pre-dates the Panthers, and according to one blog, during a strike in 1951, 31 prisoners cut their Achilles tendons so that they could not be made to work on the farm. Acts like these distinguish those who really have "nothing to lose but their chains" - one definition of the proletariat. Religious brainwashing can be effective at diffusing such resistance, especially when there are bribes involved, but the oppressed will gravitate towards Maoism as it represents their interests as a people and not just short-term individual interests.

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[Religious Repression] [Iowa]
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Religious persecution of Muslims in Iowa

I am a young Muslim in the Department of Corrections in Iowa. I am a Sunni Muslum and am being persecuted for being a Muslim. Since the Fort Hood incident the Correctional Officers (COs) in here have been violating my civil rights. They told me that I can not wear my Kufi in the building nor can I give praises to Allah in the dayroom or outside in the yard. I was told that they better not hear about me having my Dhikr beads out where the COs can see them or they will take me to the hole.

I have filed a grievance against the DOC policy and I was told that this matter is non-grievable. I filed another one and that was denied also. I can't do anything to fight the violation of my first amendment right (freedom of speech and religion). I can't even make my Salat without the COs making comments.

Today I was written up and told that I better not get caught with my Kufi or my Dhikr beads on my head nor in my hands if I am not in religious service. I am reaching out to anyone who will help me and my brothers in here. I know that our rights are being violated and I need some help to be able to practice Islam freely without being persecuted for our beliefs. You have brothers afraid to speak up because of the COs in this prison.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There are no rights under a class system, only power struggles. This is yet another example, from another u$ prison, where grievances are powerless on their own.

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[Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Build Unity and Non-violence

This is your fellow brother in the struggle for equal rights. I am sitting here reading your latest ULK 8 about state by state labor data, and I would love to commend you for another exceptional publication. I never knew so much kickbacks, and in house cooperation was going on from state to state. I completely agree with all the brothers who help to inform unenlightened brothers such as myself. I try desperately to inform a lot of the other brothers. The harsh treatment and neglectful respect for one another continues to tear unity apart.

It has gotten so bad that I hardly stand by a fellow brother because all they do is talk about sex, drugs, violence and gang banging. I left that lifestyle alone almost 3 years ago and I try to keep myself away from that environment. I try to talk and show your publication off but not too many want to read it.

I took a stand of non-violent protest against all injustice becaues what you say is right. I believe violence will not solve these problems that are going on. Here on my plantation in Texas, within the last 8 months these officers killed 2 prisoners and fractured, or cracked one African-American frontal lobe of his skull. I was threatened by a Sgt saying "your grievances don't work so stay out of the way."

I have been denied my religious service of Islam multiple times and there is no help in sight by the administrators. There are times when I come in from my work detail "field squad" manual labor and they have pork for chow. I am a muslim and can't eat pork so they give us 2 slices of cheese instead. I was forced to go out and engage in manual hard labor in my boots which were hanging on by a thread. Both of my boots were torn off and barely together when a C/O and Sgt said it will be a case if I don't turn out for work. I was forced to endure twigs and other stuff puncturing the bottom of my feet to comply with regulations.

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[Religious Repression] [New York]
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Fighting repression of Muslims in NY

At the end of October, I will begin trial in a civil action lawsuit regarding the mistreatment of Muslim prisoners in the Lakeview Shock Correctional Facility in New York. This trial will be conducted before the honorable Charles J. Siragusa in the United States District Court in Rochester. I will be proceeding pro se in this case. This case is entitled Andre Smith vs Glenn Goord, 04 CV 6432 (CJS).

This case is based on the fact that the defendants placed a substantial burden on my right to exercise my religious beliefs at the Lakeview CF from December 30, 2003 to March 26, 2004, while promoting the Catholic religion at the expense of myself and other Muslim prisoners, by acknowledging the Catholic religion by passing out bibles to all inmates and allowing the Catholic chaplain to give religious advice to all prisoners, including myself and other Muslims. They accord special recognition to Christianity beyond anything necessary to accommodate the religious needs of the Catholic majority, and the defendants make it easier for Catholics to practice their religion than for adherents of another faith to practice their faith. The defendants did not provide an alternative way for myself and other Muslims to exercise our religious beliefs. This violates the religious land use and institutionalized persons act which congress enacted in 2000.

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