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Old 11-14-2015, 06:57 AM
stormynights stormynights is offline
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Angry Native Americans denied sweat lodge!

I was wondering if anyone had any advice. My boyfriend was moved to Tallahatchie Correctional Facility in Mississippi. They are not allowing any of the native american inmates to go to the sweat lodge! One man said he has been there a couple of years and has only been allowed to go two times! This seems to me to violate their rights to worship and practice their beliefs. I am sure there is a chapel there and other inmates are allowed to practice their beliefs! My boyfriend wants me to call the warden and complain and I will but, I am not sure if that will get me anywhere. What can I do?
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Old 11-14-2015, 08:24 AM
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Hi there, federal law does protect an individuals right to practice their native religion in prison unless doing so would create a security or health and safety risk for the prison or cause concerns for the prison or other inmates.
Prison policies on sweat lodges are mixed,many prisons that allow them and see the benefits for calming inmates and allowing religious and spirtual expression. However those that do not state health and safety as the reason.
There was a case where a prison in Missouri banned sweat lodges this was challenged and this was up held in court.The case was Fowler v Crawford it was upheld as a security risk to allow inmates access to hot rocks ,lit embers scalding rocks and shovels. Also the lack of supervision within the lodge.
Therefore the prison do not have to allow a sweat lodge and they do not have to ban them either its a decision for the individual so there is hope.
Your partner could do down the formal grievance route and see what happens or your partner could enter a collective grievance with other Native inmates.

I know when I did this research for my loved one his institution did eventually allow sweat lodges. So its worth trying. Good luck.
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Old 11-14-2015, 08:24 AM
CenTexLyn CenTexLyn is offline
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Has he exhausted his administrative remedies? If not, then calling is definitely not wise. Nothing sets a unit off quite like an offender who won't use the established grievance procedures and has outside people calling in to try and speak for them.

Is there a facility there for the purposes of the sweat lodge? Your post seems to suggest that there is. What rationale has been given in the past for why they have not been permitted to use it?
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Old 11-15-2015, 07:59 AM
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Thank you ladies! I would do anything to help him but, I was hesitant when he asked me to call because you are right, I don't want to be a whining girlfriend who will just make them mad. I will suggest to him to make a formal grievance and to get the others to join. There is a sweat lodge there but, he did not say what their reasons are for not letting them use it. I will also inquire about that with him. He finds do much peace when he gets to attend so, I hope we can get this worked out for his sake! The hardest part is loving someone so much and feeling helpless to help them out! But, ya'll gave some great helpful suggestions and I thank you both so much!!
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:30 PM
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You might be interested in this article regarding the right to hold Sweat Lodge in Massachusetts. A definite win.

http://indianz.com/News/2015/019665.asp

There is an organization called Huy that assists with these types of matters. You might check them out as well. They have a lot of useful information to share.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:47 AM
JessiaSutton JessiaSutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormynights View Post
I was wondering if anyone had any advice. My boyfriend was moved to Tallahatchie Correctional Facility in Mississippi. They are not allowing any of the native american inmates to go to the sweat lodge! One man said he has been there a couple of years and has only been allowed to go two times! This seems to me to violate their rights to worship and practice their beliefs. I am sure there is a chapel there and other inmates are allowed to practice their beliefs! My boyfriend wants me to call the warden and complain and I will but, I am not sure if that will get me anywhere. What can I do?
Please do not contact the warden, first confirm from your BF about his behavior. My BF was facing vegan situation inside. But on complaining, there was no way of getting it. You have to make direct complain to the state authorities that handle prison human affairs.
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