October 1, 2014

Muslim inmate takes his case for a beard to the Supreme Court

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When Gregory Holt's case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Oct. 7), lawyers won't be arguing about what landed him a life sentence in an Arkansas state prison, but rather what he wanted to do once he got there: grow a beard in observance of his Muslim religious beliefs. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

When Gregory Holt's case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Oct. 7), lawyers won't be arguing about what landed him a life sentence in an Arkansas state prison, but rather what he wanted to do once he got there: grow a beard in observance of his Muslim religious beliefs. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

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WASHINGTON (RNS) Inmate Gregory Holt wants to grow a half-inch beard in observance of his Muslim faith. Arkansas prison officials say he can't. The Supreme Court will decide.

  • The problem with inmates filing suit over anything is, one never knows if they really “mean it” or not. Inmates have a lot of time on their hands, and a lot of grudges to nurse. One of their few outlets is the essentially endless access they have to the court system. Anytime they want to file a suit over something, they can do so … at no cost to them.

    Take for example Steven Hayes’s lawsuit over a kosher diet (http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/2014/09/12/vicious-murderer-uses-religion-to-protest-being-on-death-row/). He’s even less of an Orthodox Jew than I am — and I’m not one at all. But he’s found a rationale to file a suit against a state, not to mention one or more attorneys mercenary enough to take the case and milk the state for six figures or more. His problem is that he’s pissed off over being locked up for life and he’s looking for ways (other than suicide attempts, which he’s used multiple times) to get attention to himself and gin up a little sympathy for his “cause.”

    What people like Hayes and Holt should do, instead of using religion as a pretext for filing lawsuits, is to grow up — usually for the first time in their lives; accept responsibility for what they did; and endure their sentences … in silence. Using religion in order to exact revenge against the state and legal system that put them in prison, and to get their names in the papers because they have no other way to express themselves, is childish. Lawyers who take their cases should be disbarred. Judges who hear these cases should be thrown off the bench. And any believers who actually think any of these guys’ religious beefs with the prison system are genuine, need to have their heads examined.

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  • Earold D. Gunter

    Committing actions that are considered criminal to a given society result in the loss of the rights had in those given societies, although some rights may be significantly more or less in differing societies. In the U.S.A., punishment for crimes take away many rights, and that should also include any special treatment to insure the freedom of religious worship. If a convicted criminal wants to practice a religious belief, they should be allowed to, but only to the extent that it doesn’t require any special treatment.

  • Rodrigo Vera

    it is the politically correct consensus that radical islamist are not real muslims, so why would it be OK to let them perform muslims rituals?
    wouldn’t that offend muslims?

  • opheliart

    Yes, E, what you and PsiCop share is valid. This is not to say that I have no compassion for the imprisoned, for there is often a horrendous back story on these offenders, which cannot be completely dismissed, but it is the case that losing rights can help one to realize bad behavior (although too often this is missed, and for many reasons). At some point it is necessary to understand the imbalances and remember who the victims are …

    Peace and Love

  • Riley O’Rourke

    Why is it that the worst of society, when incarcerated, always find allah. Then the PC police scramble to make sure they are not offended or have their feelings hurt. Like most such cases, Mr. Holt converts to islam, then continues his ways. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the koran!

  • Larry

    Not true, many also find Christ and expect to be paroled. They think making self-serving statements about God’s forgiveness is more important than making amends to people one harmed.

  • Tom Concannon

    I agree with you, I am sure there are a lot of rules that are necessary to enforce in order to maintain order. For example, I imagine that the anarchists who never take a bath could stink up a prison cell and make themselves a nuisance to everyone, yet they could claim it was their right, and it is their religion or creed or world view, but most people would agree there must be rules to prevent such things. I think anyone who is in jail loses all but the essential rights to food, shelter, sanitary living and some daily exercise. We give all kinds of other things like visits, use of telephone at certain times, matrimonial visits etc.
    Enough is enough. Peace.

  • The problem isn’t whether or not they “use” religion, but the fact that Christianity is allowed in most prisons–even sometimes State sponsored. If one religion is allowed, then all religions must be allowed, according to the Constitution, which is often ignored by religious conservatives.

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  • Re: “If one religion is allowed, then all religions must be allowed, according to the Constitution, which is often ignored by religious conservatives.”

    I honestly don’t care what the religion is. Or even if religion is involved at all. When inmates launch lawsuits based on pretexts, because they have nothing better to do with themselves and view it as a way to get back at the system that put them where they are, it’s always bad for everyone.

    Except maybe the lawyers … paid for by government … who represent the inmates. They make a boatload of cash. The rest of us pay that bill and the courts have to waste time indulging them.

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  • holly taxpayer

    Im so against this!! these are people who broke the law ,prison shouldn’t. Be. A walk in the park ! Thats why they all go back its harder to be a good hard working person on the outside then to be a prisoner . This guy killed a women

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