Federal judge denied challenge to Virginia prison grooming policy

On April 25, 2011, the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia ruled that the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) did not violate the rights of Muslim inmates by prohibiting them from growing beards. The inmate in question, William Couch, had claimed that the follicle restriction violated his religious rights. The VDOC countered that the prohibition was necessary to prevent inmates from altering their appearances or self-identifying as members of a gang. The decision was appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which has yet to rule on the matter. Prior to the ruling a Virginia, a similar case was filed in California by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for disciplining a Sikh inmate for refusing to trim his beard.

Learn more about the laws governing prisons from the JURIST news archive.


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