Religious Rights of the Sioux Indians

Many people believe that the government has taken advantage of the Native American's religious rights.  In 1994 after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by congress TDC revised its religious policy.  Mark Juan Hamilton, an American Indian initiated the present action under the Civil Rights Act of 1871 alleging that Missouri prison officials violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion by requiring him to cut his hair and by denying him access to a sweat lodge.  Applying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri enjoined prison officials from enforcing a hair length regulation and ordered them to provide a weekly sweat lodge ceremony.  The prison officials appealed.  Because the prison regulation and policy at issue do not violate Hamilton's right to free exercise of religion as protected under the First Amendment and RFFA.  Hamilton is incarcerated at the Maximum Security Potosi Correctional Center.  The Facility provides cross denominational religious facilities inside prison buildings.  American Indian inmates at Potosi are allowed to pray, to gather together for regularly scheduled services, to meet with outside spiritual leader and to obtain religious reading material fro the library.

Shelley C.

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