BANGOR – You may remember, in July last year Cumberland County Jail officers released mug shots of four Muslim women not wearing their head scarves. In the wake of that incident, the Maine Chapter of the ACLU is urging sheriff’s statewide to examine their policies on religious freedom.
In a nutshell, requests about religious rituals and customs are treated on a case-by-case basis at the Penobscot County Jail.
Sheriff Troy Morton said “They express their concerns and needs to us. We have to be conscious of safety and security of our facilities, while keeping in mind those that express different religious beliefs.”
The jailers have been dealing with religious issues for years. And, head gear is not the only issue.
Sheriff Morton added “Quite often it’s about meals. Often, it’s about visitations. And sometimes it’s about headgear or medallions or books or things like that.”
In total, the jail has 266 operational standards that must be followed, including religious freedom guidelines.
“Over the years this really isn’t something new to us. And it’s something we’ve experienced for years. And it’s included in our policies. It’s included in the training that we have.” Concluded the Sheriff.
Some inmates take their religion to jail with them. Other inmates find religion in jail. Regardless of how they reach their spiritual goal, the sheriff said they’re willing to work with the inmates so they can have their religious freedoms in jail.