Rights: Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
By Rashid Junaid, Prisonersolidarity.org
June 31, 2006
the year 2000 Congress passed the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which states that: "No
shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a
residing in or confined to an institution" unless the burden
compelling governmental interest" and does so "by the
an institution does not receive federal funds they are not obligated
follow RLUIPA standards (because Congress uses its Spending and
Clause powers to make this Act law). Most if not all state prison
and institutions receive federal money for some portion of their
and are therefore obligated to follow RLUIPA standards.
a recent unanimous decision the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld
RLUIPA in Cutter v. Wilkerson, 2005 U.S. Lexis 346, 73 U.S.4347.
particular case addresses the constitutionality of the RLUIPA itself.
However, the opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provides
guidance for those prisoners seeking greater exercise of religious
within institutions, especially Muslims.
Ginsburg's report upheld the use of halal (lawful for Muslim
consumption) foods, possession of the Qur'an, prayer oils, and pork
substitutes in the context of Congress's legislative intent to enact
RLUIPA, for the purpose of unburdening the practice of religion
Does this mean that Muslim prisoners should start filing lawsuits
every perceived restriction to their religious practice? The answer
"no." Muslim prisoners should be cautious about filing
lawsuits, due to
the ramifications of such actions. If you file a lawsuit and don't
present your claims in court, you could further justify restrictions
upon Muslim prisoners.
also need to prioritize their concerns. In order of importance,
these should be: 1) the right to conduct and/or attend Jumu'ah (the
Friday service), 2) the right to have a Muslim chaplain, 3) the
have a halal food diet, 4) the right to receive donated religious
5) the right to wear kufis (Islamic headgear), 6) the right to conduct
fundraisers, 7) the right to have adequate accommodations during
(the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims observe fasts),
the right to have Islamic name changes recognized.
Muslim Prisoner Ministry has put together a list of Muslim prisoners'
rights that include cases to support their claims. Send a SASE for
of the Muslim Prisoners' Rights Information Guide to:
Muslim Prisoner Ministry
3936 South Benton
Kansas City, Misouri 64130
To receive a copy of the Cutter v. Wilkerson opinion piece, write
U.S. Supreme Court at the below address:
K. Suter, Clerk
United States Supreme Court
1 First Street, NE
United States Courthouse
Washington, D.C. 20543
Rashid Junaid is a Muslim prisoner who is deeply engaged in his
raise the consciousness of his fellowmen, especially the youths,
to a higher
level. Rashid is a former member of the CRIPS and has helped to
programs to steer youths away from gang violence to positive action.
the Imam (prayer and spiritual leader) of the Muslim community at
Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri, and has filed various
litigations against the Missouri Department of Corrections to establish
Islamic rights for the Muslim communities in the state of Missouri.
also the editor of the Muslim Prisoner Bulletin, a publication designed
bring attention to the concerns of Muslim prisoners incarcerated
the U.S. He can be reached by writing to:
Junaid, # 191386
Potosi Correctional Center
11593 State Hwy. O
Mineral Point, MO 63660
writing to Rashid, please send him a pre-embossed stamped envelope
he can promptly answer your letter. He is not permitted adhesive
that is, regular stamps. The following link offers tips for writing