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Why Native American Inmates Can’t Wear Their Hair Long in Alabama


The U.S. Supreme Court will not consider a case from Native American inmates in Alabama prisons who want to wear their hair long in accordance with their religious beliefs and tradition.

The justices’ refusal to hear their appeal lets stand an appeals-court decision from last summer that ruled in favor of the Alabama Department of Corrections and its grooming policies, which require male inmates to keep their hair short, defined as “off neck and ears.” The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in August upheldprison officials’ argument that long hair posed hygiene and security risks, and could be used to conceal weapons or contraband or could help escaped inmates change their appearance. That decision is now the final word in the case.

The inmates’ lawyer said Monday that “their sacred and ancestral core religious traditions are at stake,” according to the Associated Press.

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