Magazine article Corrections Forum

Grooming Freedom?

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Grooming Freedom?

Article excerpt

After Congress enacted the Religious Freedom

Restoration Act (RFRA), several adult male inmates filed suit against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Syder v Voinovich, challenging the grooming code. The suit alleged that the Ohio had infringed their constitutionally protected religious freedom by requiring them to cut their hair. The Department's grooming code limits inmate hair length to no more than three inches, not to extend below the collar or cover the ears. There are no exceptions under the policy, religious or otherwise. Ohio considered adding a narrowly tailored religious exemption to the rule, but concluded that the difficulty in interpreting and enforcing such an exemption would have the effect of eviscerating the general rule. Ohio elected to defend the litigation.

The court consolidated the claims and appointed counsel to represent the inmates. Counsel conducted extensive discovery. …

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