Virginia: Fed court sides with Muslim inmate over beard lawsuit

William Couch, a 50-year-old Sunni Muslim, is a medium-security prisoner serving multiple life sentences for rape and other convictions.  via Court revives Muslim inmate’s lawsuit over beard – Washington Times.

A federal appeals panel has reversed a lower court’s ruling that a Sunni Muslim incarcerated in a Virginia prison could not grow a beard as dictated by his religion because it runs counter to the state Department of Corrections’ grooming policy.

William R. Couch, an inmate at the Augusta Correctional Center in Craigsville, requested in December 2009 to grow a one-eighth-inch beard to comply with his religious requirements, pointing out that the prison accommodated medically exempt inmates who can grow four-inch beards. Those inmates can get a “No Shave Pass” from a prison’s medical authority based on a condition aggravated by shaving.

Mr. Couch was repeatedly denied, however, and subsequently filed a civil action. The district court, however, ruled in favor of the prison officials.

According to the opinion issued Friday by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Couch had testified that the primary texts of Islam “command” that he grow a beard “and that the refusal to maintain a beard is a sin comparable in severity to eating pork.”

John M. Jabe, Deputy Director of Operations for the Department of Corrections, countered that the policy barring long hair and beards is in place for legitimate safety and health reasons.

“In addition to security concerns, positive identification of each inmate is important in the event of escape from confinement,” he wrote in an affidavit. “Prisoners with long hair and beards can rapidly change their appearance so as to compromise the need for rapid identification. Even inside the prison, positive, quick identification of inmates facilitates the orderly operation of each facility.”

A three-judge panel, however, said that because prison officials did not outline how a one-eighth-inch beard would implicate safety concerns, they failed to satisfy their burden under a law protecting people living in or confined to an institution from a “substantial burden” on their religious exercise, unless the government can demonstrate that it furthers a “compelling government interest” and is the least restrictive way to do so.

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections said they do not comment on court proceedings or pending litigation.

The panel vacated the district court’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Islam over safety, always.

14 thoughts on “Virginia: Fed court sides with Muslim inmate over beard lawsuit

  1. Can someone enlighten me as to the motivation for this evergrowing backbending accommodation to Muslim demands that are totally unreasonable. If growing a beard while incarcerated presents a problem to ones religion a good idea might be to stay the h— out of prison. Established laws based on safety, security, health, should be upheld and not drawn into court for religious excuses again and again.

  2. Our judical system is increasingly yielding to and accommodating unreasonable claims that religious practices are being denied to those of the Muslim faith. Established laws of security, health, safety do not interfere with legitimate religious practice and should not be constantly watered down for fake claims of descrimination. This nonsense needs more public awarness. No one can stop anyone in this country from following their ligitimate religious practices, BUT, there will be many exception necesssary in order to maintain safety and security and health. The compromise must come from the Muslims themselves. No more accommodation to sound, established laws. Too much undeserved respect is being given to cultural practises that need to be shot down without any claim of religious intolerance scaring our courts into silly rulings.

    • I agree, Eileen, but the bullying, arrogant muslim rabble don’t agree with ‘sound, established laws’ in the US. They want their backward, barbaric 7th. century sharia law. And though it seems unfathomable, many of your countymen seem only too pleased to comply.

      Both weird and sad, isn’t it?

      • There is something to be said about “appeasing” and fear of government officials who yeild to political correctness. There they are sitting in an official position with the greatest power and the greatest guns surrounding them. To call them afraid seems almost pointless. For a long time, I too, thought they were cowards and appeasers of all things barbaric, but no, with all the guns at their disposal (which they will not hesitate to use agains their own citizens, they will not use it either against blatant, totalitarian evil. Have you noticed the terms identifying Totalitarian Islam has never been used in newspapers? I don’t ever remember seeing it, even during 9/11.

        This problem of evasion (i.e. not identifying the banality) is deeply ingrained in America’s educational establishment. This educational establishment gives birth to North America’s political leaders. America’s (and Canada’s) political systems rest on egalitarianism and equalitarianism, and thus a mechanistic process (force) to level all to metaphysical, “equality” regardless of ideas or actions. Justice has disappeared. Liberals and Conservatives both have long ignored the fact man survives by his rational faculty and that justice proceeds from objectively assessing a man’s ideas and actions, then judging accordingly. Successful, honest businessmen are treated as demogogues, and vile Islamic killers are respected.

        • Well said Ted, justice has indeed disappeared, and common-sense along with it; and the reason for all this nonsense just walks straight through security at all airports, while the rest of us are humiliated and insulted.

          There are places I would like to visit in this world, but I’ve been insulted enough, so my holidays will be in Canada until the madness stops. (Which will be when the “dhimmis” eventually wake up.) Leftist, marxist, muslim-hugging idiots have a lot to answer for.

  3. All muslim prisnors should be deported toislamic antion and make a law all related to him from allangles will not be permitted to visit west and fee world ever.
    Looks lik eour judges are out of tuch with islam.
    Read this..West and America need to learn fast all about Islam soon as Islam has a full proof system to kill its enemy without sending arms and army.
    Send Mullahs so called religious leaders to convert our poor , uneducated and people in jail criminals to Islam once they are Muslims use them to fight with govt laws and people around them fro new laws and privileges to defend Islam using our people our resources and our food and money we are going to be defeated
    . Do we have a solution once convert to Islam this Muslim is now for all future generation loyal to Saudis Arabs and Allah not to USA or country he/she is born in.
    We are all now doomed sooner or later.

  4. so not growing a beard is a sin comparable in severity to eating pork. how does beardlessness and pork consumption compare with rape as a sin?

    oh wait, in sharia law there is no such concept of rape when it involves infidel women. momo said that muslim males are allowed to possess infidel women and do anything they want with them at any time. instead of fighting about his right to grow a beard, this inmate should really be focusing on the real issue–that he is even incarcerated at all!

  5. No beard in USA prison which usually allows internet use, phone calls, medical and dental care, tv, room and board, visits with burqa dressed woman etc OR keep the beard and go to prison in the Middle East.

    You pick.

    Say No 2 Mo!

  6. In Fornicalia, you’ll be abundantly pleased to know that my 2,000+ personnel major Sacramento Valley law enforcement department has placed beards and hair length aside in their infinite and understanding wisdom, regarding in-custody inmates.

    AB 109 is about to fiscally KILL each and every county in Fornicalia.


  7. Seriously? A federal court sides with a serial rapist career criminal? Almost makes me wanna river dance. Oh, well, it’ll just be easier for some other prisoner to grab his beard and shank him. See, there’s a silver lining to even the most vile information.

  8. Seriously, I forget exactly which “brilliant”, ancient general it was who discovered that by shaving beards, it made it impossible for the enemy to grab their faces and cut their throats. Sounds pretty obvious, huh? Let the Muslims keep their beards.

If sharia law continues spreading, you'll have less and less freedom of speech - so speak while you can!

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