Ala. American Indian inmates say long hair ban hinders tribal customs

Montgomery, USA - American Indian inmates in Alabama prisons have waged a 15-year legal battle against the ban by the state Department of Corrections on long hair, which they say infringes on their tribal religious customs.

The inmates said in their lawsuit that their religious practices have been stifled by the department's policy of requiring all male inmates to keep their hair short.

Testimony on the grooming policy ended Jan. 23.

Alabama is one of 12 states that prohibit inmates from wearing long hair while incarcerated. Corrections officials say long hair poses a threat to prison security, safety, health, hygiene and public safety.