The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana announced Monday that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a prisoner who practices the African Hebrew Israelite religion because the Pendleton Correctional Facility won’t allow the religious group to congregate for prayer unless a volunteer is present.
“The DOC does not have the right to deny prisoners an intrinsic element of their religious beliefs,” said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk. “Federal law protects people from substantial burdens on their religious free exercise, and the equal protection clause guarantees that laws will be applied equally.”
The lawsuit, Paul Veal v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, et al., 1:13-CV-1167, alleges that the facility, run by the Department of Correction, is in violation of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The ACLU of Indiana says the facility doesn’t require volunteers to be present for other religious groups to congregate. The suit was filed in the Indianapolis Division of the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Indiana.