June 4, 2018
Issue: Religious Freedom
Muslim Advocates Sues Connecticut Federal Prison Over Denial of Group Prayer to Incarcerated Muslims
Washington, DC – Last Friday, Muslim Advocates filed a complaint on behalf of two Muslim incarcerated persons who are being prevented from practicing their religious beliefs by officials at the Federal Correctional Institution Danbury (“FCI Danbury”).
A central tenet of Islam is the obligation for Muslims to pray (or perform salah) five times a day. Many Muslims also believe it is vital to perform salah in a group setting, if there are other Muslims in the vicinity during prayer times. Yet, senior officials at FCI Danbury have enacted a policy that substantially restricts and effectively bars individuals housed in that facility from participating in congregational prayer. As a result of this policy, plaintiffs and other Muslim incarcerated persons are prevented from engaging in this important religious practice.
As detailed in the complaint, officials at FCI Danbury have provided no meaningful justification for this overly restrictive policy. Many other federal correctional facilities allow incarcerated persons to engage in congregational prayer, and even at FCI Danbury incarcerated persons are permitted to participate in a broad array of other group activities. Through this action, Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would prohibit the continued enforcement of the policy at FCI Danbury.
“There is no more fundamental American value than the right to practice your faith as you see fit,” said Matthew Callahan, staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “Yet our plaintiffs – and many other Muslim incarcerated persons at FCI Danbury – are being denied the right to engage in the simple act of congregational prayer.”
This legal action was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiffs are represented by Muslim Advocates and the Law Office of Renee C. Redman LLC. The complaint is available here.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.