USA California To Let Sikh Prisoners Keep Beards


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
California To Let Sikh Prisoners Keep Beards

WASHINGTON – California has agreed to allow prisoners in the state to keep unshorn beards in accordance with their faith, according to the Sikh Coalition, a community advocacy group.

The change follows settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Sikh Coalition against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on behalf of Sukhjinder Singh Basra, a Sikh inmate.

Under the settlement Basra’s disciplinary record for refusing to cut his beard will be expunged. An otherwise model inmate, Basra suffered repeated disciplinary sanctions for keeping his religiously-mandated beard uncut, the group said.

The settlement protects not just Sikhs, but inmates of all faiths who maintain religiously-mandated beards. Under its terms, CDCR will repeal a rule prohibiting inmates from growing facial hair more than a half inch in length.

“Basra was peaceably observing his faith while posing absolutely no threat to the health and safety of the prison population,” said Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Programme on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

“We are glad that the CDCR has recognized the fundamental importance of basic religious exercise, even within the prison walls.”

“This victory underscores the bedrock principle of religious freedom upon which this country was founded,” said Harsimran Kaur, Legal Director of the Sikh Coalition.

“The right to practice one’s faith free from government interference applies to everyone, including religious minorities like Sikhs.”


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Apr 11, 2007
lol i bet other prisoner will becomes Sikhs just so they can have beards. Just like many of them become Muslims to avoid being rapped by other groups. Prison is a funny place..

Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
I have been in prison, and suffered the opposite, I got a cell to myself, and everyone was very nice to me! (I wore my turban in those days)

In fact, the only group that worried me were these group of skinheads that kept watching me walk up the stairs to where the cells were. After my jailing, (it was unexpected, I did not think that they jailed you for driving a car on a ban), I was so shocked the first few days I did not eat anything, and gradually my trousers started to fall down, so I constantly hung on to them with my hand while walking around. On the third day the group surrounded me, and the leader pointed at me and said, 'your trousers are falling down', I just nodded stupidly, thinking ok, this is where somethings going to hurt, but the leader then fished out 5 laces that had been knotted together,and said, 'we've made you a belt, out of our laces', I looked down to see that indeed, the famous skinhead boots now had no laces, and they all laced it through my loopholes on my trousers. Once it had been tied up, they all admired their handywork, and walked off leaving me stunned. This taught me never ever to judge people on appearances again

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