Prisoners Rights

Palm Beach Gardens Defense Attorney

To be an inmate in the Florida criminal justice system, many of your individual rights as a citizen will be infringed upon and/or revoked entirely. Unfortunately, by committing an offense that attaches prison time, there will be certain liberties and freedoms that you, as an inmate, will lose. You lose the right to certain privacies, you are not able to walk freely outside of the prison, and the practice of your religion could be compromised. If you or a loved one have been arrested and are concerned about losing fundamental rights as an inmate, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.

Freedom of Religion in Prison

Freedom of religion is one of the issues that frequently arises when inmates are incarcerated for long periods of time. How one practices a religion may vary, especially when the religion is not a mainstream one. The federal law has taken some steps to ensure that inmates in federal prisons are able to practice their religion to the best of their ability. However, in state prison, such as in the Florida state prison system, the ability to practice a religion may be limited by the state due to security and/or budgetary concerns.

Florida State Prisons and Mainstream Religion

Florida state prisons generally provide services and access to religious leaders for the more conventional religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. For men and women who are followers of these religions, the state prisons are able to accommodate because the tenets of the religions are well-known. However, just because the tenets are well-known does not mean that all aspects of the religion are permitted within the prison walls.

Right of Inmates to Religious Property

According to a recent amendment to a Florida rule regarding inmate property, inmates are permitted to have access to religious texts and are permitted to wear or carry at all times certain religious symbols, medallions, or talismans that are no more than two inches in length or diameter. According to the rule, the following are the religions and items that are permitted to be worn or carried by an inmate:

  • Muslims: up to four white or blue headscarves for women, and a white koofi for men;
  • Catholics: a scapular;
  • Jews: a white Tallit Katan and black yarmulke;
  • Buddhist: Rakusu;
  • Rastafarian: up to four white or blue headscarves for women; and
  • Assembly of Yashua: a black yarmulke.

Items used for individual worship are permitted and used by the following:

  • Muslim: a prayer rug;
  • Native American: a medicine bag, feather and headband;
  • Asatru or Odinism: runes and a cloth bag;
  • Wiccan or Thelema: tarot cards; and
  • Greek Orthodox: a prayer robe.

Security Concerns Surrounding Religious Property

Though the items listed above are generally permitted to be carried, worn, or used by inmates at all times for private worship, some religious items may pose a security risk to the health and safety of themselves or others. When determining whether an item poses a security risk, the prison staff will evaluate the following:

  • The nature and use of the item requested and the possible dangers that it might pose;
  • The type of prison facility or institution that the inmate is housed in and the demographics of the general inmate population in the event that an inmate’s religion might pose a risk of harm to the followers; and
  • The record and criminal history of the inmate him/herself.

The ability to practice your religion is just one of the possible liberties that you might have to forfeit due to your status as an inmate. To ensure you are not put in that position, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defendant attorney. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.