Druidism now recognized as distinct religion at DOC

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The Indiana Department of Correction is now allowing followers of Druidism to study and worship as a distinct religion pursuant to a court-approved consent decree.

The Indiana Southern District Court on March 11 approved a stipulated judgment between inmate Isaac Felton and the Indiana Department of Correction providing that, “Defendant, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction — along with his officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and any other persons in active concert or participation with these persons — is hereby permanently enjoined to allow for the separate congregate worship and study of Druidism on the same terms and conditions as other religions for which congregate worship and study is authorized.”

Felton, an inmate at the New Castle Correctional Facility, sued the DOC in April 2020 under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, arguing his religious rights were being violated because Druidism was not recognized in the Indiana prison system. Specifically, he claimed the DOC would not recognize Druidism as distinct from Wicca and refused to allow inmates who practiced Druidism to meet for weekly worship and study separate from Wiccan inmates.

Judge James P. Hanlon entered a preliminary injunction in Felton’s favor in March 2021. He entered the order approving the stipulated judgment roughly one year later.

“Here, the stipulated judgment is lawful, fair, reasonable, and adequate,” Hanlon wrote. “In addition, it satisfies all requirements imposed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a).

“… (A)lthough the stipulated judgment was filed early in the litigation, the record gives no indication that greater discovery would aid resolution of this case,” Hanlon added.

Any additional claims raised in Felton’s lawsuit not directly addressed by the injunction were dismissed without prejudice.

Felton was represented by attorney Gavin Rose of the ACLU of Indiana, while the DOC was represented by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.

The case is Isaac Felton v. Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, 1:20-cv-01253.

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