Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hijabs For Muslim Inmates In King County Washington Jails

There should be no concessions made for people who commit crimes that land them in jail, but it's happening ever more frequently with jails succumbing to demands for kosher and halal meals. Now a jail in King County in Washington state is providing hijabs and yarmulkes to inmates because enough people balked. They are also being allowed to wear head coverings in courthouses in the county. If they are that religious why are they in jail in the first place?

It's not often a Muslim woman ends up in jail, say King County officials. But, a few years ago, a woman was forced to remove her headscarf – or Hijab -- during her one-night stay in jail. She described it as humiliating, similar to being forced to take off her clothes.

“This is a larger issue of how is our jail balancing peoples’ right to express their religion ... even in a correctional environment,” says Jennifer Gist of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group for Muslims.

Jews and Sikhs have come to King County jails requesting they keep their headwear too. While the county jail and court staffs were open to accommodating religious beliefs, they did have some problems to solve.

“A turban, obviously, is a long piece of cloth, it’s typically six to eight feet long. An individual can use that to hurt themselves, or they could also use that to conceal things,” says Commander William Hayes of the county jail in Kent.

Under a new policy that took effect in January, King County inmates are now given generic, department-issued hijab or other head cover, along with their red jumpsuit, says Hayes. The policy also allows spot-checks inside the head coverings, at any time, provided the check is performed by a guard of the same sex as the prisoner.
As you can well imagine, CAIR was instrumental in getting King County officials to cave.  If they want to express their religion, then stay out of jail.

No comments: