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USA Sikh Inmate Sues Calif Prison Over Grooming Policy

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
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Jun 17, 2004
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Sikh inmate sues Calif prison over grooming policy
The Associated Press
Posted: 02/25/2011 06:44:42 PM PST
Updated: 02/25/2011 06:44:43 PM PST

LOS ANGELES—A Sikh inmate in a San Luis Obispo prison is suing the state Department of Corrections, alleging that he was unfairly disciplined for refusing to trim his beard in adherence to his religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sukhjinder (sook-JIN'-der) Basra on Friday.

Basra, who is serving time at the California Men's Colony for a drug offense, claims that guards told him he violated a rule prohibiting inmates from growing facial hair longer than a half inch. As punishment Basra said he was ordered to perform extra prison duties, spend 10 days confined to his bunk, and lost 30 days of credit for good behavior.

A corrections spokeswoman says the department doesn't comment on pending lawsuits.

http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_17485915?nclick_check=1
 

Seeker9

Cleverness is not wisdom
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Now here's an interesting question...over in the UK, we've recently had a debate as to whether criminals should retain the right to vote

Taking that one step further...and it's just a question for debate folks...should criminals, Sikh or otherwise, be allowed to adhere to key articles of their faith if such observance goes against established policy and procedures, some of which may have some basis in security issues or hygeine issues etc (remembering this is a prison environment we are talking about here)
 

findingmyway

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Aug 18, 2010
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Seeker9 ji,
Interest thought but the 2 things are not even close to being in the same basket. Religion is a more personal thing. It is part of the fabric of who we are. Denying someone the right to practice one of the few positives they have is akin to torture (especially if it involves a physical act like forcibly cutting hair). It could also be detrimental. People are put into prison for all sorts of reasons in addition to committing a crime-political, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, falsely accused, self defence, momentary lapse when driving causing fatalities etc. If you take away faith which may be a huge source of comfort then you could be stopping that person from reforming and/or repenting as they will be more open to negative influences.

The right to vote is not a personal issue as that vote has a direct impact on the rest of society. Therefore, I don't agree with the European court's ruling as I do not think it is appropriate for most prisoners to have that power. It has also the danger of influencing lawmakers so they do not make the best decisions for society in favour of votes.

One issue is a personal one whereas the other has a big impact on other people.
 

Seeker9

Cleverness is not wisdom
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May 3, 2010
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Dear Findingmyway Ji

I understand what you say

In so far as Imprisonment is a restriction on the personal liberties and freedoms of the prisoner because they have been found guilty of attacking the same liberties and freedoms of others in some way then, or the basic laws that govern those liberties and freedoms, should there be the distinction you make?

Should, hypothetically speaking, a serial axe murderer be allowed to observe articles of faith?

I also referred to security and health requirements

There could be a basic hygiene requirement regarding hair length

Remember the sort of environment we are talking about here - sanitationally questionable perhaps and highly controlled with a need to follow established rules

However, I will concede there are rehabilitation considerations but these should be on a case-by-case basis taking account of the nature of the crime and the circumstances and disposition of the individual concerned



:swordfight:
 
Last edited:

Shanger

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Oct 29, 2010
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It would be a problem to deny people these rights, would mean less chance of them reforming.

same reason y prisoners can do activities (courses etc), allows them to spend some time doing something constructive, has to be done.

i know ppl wana see them rot and suffer of boredom but that would be counter-productive in many cases, they would have nothing to look forward to, probs see more riots etc i reckon.
 

findingmyway

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Aug 18, 2010
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Dear Findingmyway Ji

I understand what you say

In so far as Imprisonment is a restriction on the personal liberties and freedoms of the prisoner because they have been found guilty of attacking the same liberties and freedoms of others in some way then, or the basic laws that govern those liberties and freedoms, should there be the distinction you make?

Should, hypothetically speaking, a serial axe murderer be allowed to observe articles of faith?

I also referred to security and health requirements

There could be a basic hygiene requirement regarding hair length

Remember the sort of environment we are talking about here - sanitationally questionable perhaps and highly controlled with a need to follow established rules

However, I will concede there are rehabilitation considerations but these should be on a case-by-case basis taking account of the nature of the crime and the circumstances and disposition of the individual concerned



:swordfight:
1) I don't agree with your sanitation point. If Sikhs can keep bana successfully on the frontline of war then prison sanitation really shouldn't pose any problems!
2) Keeping hair does not stop someone following rules (and I mean those rules essential for order not the ones aimed to destroy a person from the inside).
3) By your theory we should stop inmates having access to books, TV, sport, walks, food (just give them mulch!), shoes and anything else that could be providing comfort of considered non essential
4) By your theory rehabilitation is not in the slightest important?
5) Eye for an eye cannot be constructive!
6) Name me 1 Sikh serial axe murderer swordfight
 

Seeker9

Cleverness is not wisdom
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Dear FindingmywayJi

Some more thoughts from me:

1) I think you need to read more about sanitation issues in prison! Google "Slopping out" for a start!

2) If there is a hygeine requirement in the prison re hair length and someone refuses to follow it, then technically they are breaking the rules

3) I don't think I did and don't understand your inference...I think you are the one putting things in the one basket now!

4) I thought I did acknowledge rehabililtation in my last post? So I am confused by this inference on your part as well

5) No it cannot. I did say case-by-case basis...

6) It was an example purely for illustrative purposes only. Are you suggesting there has never been a Sikh convicted of a serious crime before? Anyway, let us not digress from my main point .....

My view is once anyone of any faith or background enters the controlled environment of a prison, then some things need to be given up and we cannot make special rules for people of specific background as that may undermine the overall authority and discipline necessary to maintain order

Yes there are different levels of crime
Yes they could have been wrongly convicted

But a prison is a controlled environment with rules

So, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this occassion!

winkingmunda

1) I don't agree with your sanitation point. If Sikhs can keep bana successfully on the frontline of war then prison sanitation really shouldn't pose any problems!
2) Keeping hair does not stop someone following rules (and I mean those rules essential for order not the ones aimed to destroy a person from the inside).
3) By your theory we should stop inmates having access to books, TV, sport, walks, food (just give them mulch!), shoes and anything else that could be providing comfort of considered non essential
4) By your theory rehabilitation is not in the slightest important?
5) Eye for an eye cannot be constructive!
6) Name me 1 Sikh serial axe murderer swordfight
 

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