Dreadlocked Up

Long hair means long stretches in isolation for Virginia inmates

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Prisoners give up a number of freedoms when they’re put behind bars. In Virginia, freedom of religion may be one of them.

    Dozens of inmates there are being held in isolation because they refuse to cut their hair (Virginia’s grooming policy requires inmates to keep their hair above the shirt collar). More than a dozen of those inmates are Rastafarians, who grow their hair long as part of their religion. About 10 of those Rastafarians have been held in isolation for a decade.

    Civil rights activists are demanding action, claiming that the policy violates the prisoners’ freedom to worship.

    Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker just ordered a count of inmates being held in isolation because of the hair policy, but officials say that doesn’t mean the policy will change.