Islamic Law in U.S. Courts: Pittman-Bey v. Clay (S.D. Tex. 2013): Religious Accommodations for Prisoners

Plaintiff Leo Pittman-Bey, a Muslim inmate, sued Texas prison officials for allegedly violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and his constitutional right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment by denying him after-sunset meals during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Previous prison regulations allowed practicing Muslim inmates to receive after-sunset meals during Ramadan, but only if they had attended jumuʿa (Friday prayer) services in the 60 days prior to Ramadan or had received a special exception from the Muslim chaplain. Pittman-Bey did not attend the services because, as an adherent of the Ḥanafī school of Sunnī Islam, he said he believed that jumuʿa services are not proper if conducted in nonpublic settings like prisons. The District Court granted summary judgment for the defendants, determining that denying Ramadan meals in accordance with the jumuʿa attendance policy did not violate the First Amendment.

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