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Sufi Muslim prison inmate appeals religious rights case

March 8, 2019

POUND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia inmate says he’s been held in isolation at a Virginia supermax prison for six years and denied access to religious services.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports lawyers for Alfonza Greenhill say the Sufi Muslim is confined to a 12-foot-by-7-foot (3.7-meter-by-2.1-meter) cell for 23 hours a day and cannot attend weekly prayer services or even watch them via closed-circuit television. The prison also has a grooming policy limiting beard length.

Prison officials say the 35-year-old armed robber hasn’t earned access to the services because he refuses to improve his behavior. Greenhill’s lawyers say using religious services as a motivator violates his First Amendment rights.

Greenhill sued in 2016, but a U.S. district judge threw the lawsuit out last year. Greenhill has appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com