ACLU Wants Prison In Contempt For Not Allowing Muslim Prayer

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a petition to hold the federal Bureau of Prisons in contempt of court for not allowing Muslim inmates at a prison in Terre Haute to pray five times a day.

A federal judge ruled in January the federal prison in Terre Haute must allow its Muslim inmates to pray in a group in accordance with their religious beliefs. The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of John Walker Lindh, a convicted American-born Taliban fighter.

But the ACLU of Indiana says the Bureau of Prisons is not following the judge’s order. Legal Director Ken Falk says the prison must allow inmates to pray together five times a day, but the warden is only allowing them to pray three times a day.

“Our position is that the warden who is the defendant in this case, is in contempt,” he says. “He is willfully violating the order of the court, so we are asking that the court issue appropriate release so that the judgment is complied with.”

Sanctions the court could impose include fines or, in extreme cases, jail time.

The Bureau of Prisons was given 60 days to implement the ruling. It has now been nearly three months. A spokesperson says the bureau does not comment on pending litigation.