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Posted at 7:44 AM ET, 11/18/2010

New prison for Va. Rastafarian inmates

By the Associated Press

Several Rastafarian and other inmates who have been held in isolation for refusing to cut their hair are being moved to a prison where they can live together.

The Department of Corrections confirmed Wednesday that 31 inmates have been transferred to Keen Mountain State Prison in southwest Virginia.

Some Rastafarian inmates have been held in isolation since 1999 for refusing to cut their hair because of their religious beliefs.

The Associated Press reported in June that nearly 50 inmates were being isolated because of the policy.

Department spokesman Larry Traylor says the change was made to better manage bed space.

Traylor says that while the inmates will be housed two to a cell, they will not have all the privileges of inmates in general population.

By the Associated Press  | November 18, 2010; 7:44 AM ET
Categories:  Prison Beat, Virginia  
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Comments

ridiculous. so they have long hair, so what? even some NFL football players have long hair nowadays. this isn't the 1950's. let these men serve their time just as everyone else does. no one deserves extra punishment over the length of their hair. Jesus was a hippy!

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

MarilynManson, normally I'd agree with you but long hair in prison (particularly dredlocks, which presumably at least some of these inmates have) can be used to hide syringes, knives and other contraband. It actually presents a pretty clear security risk.

Posted by: reiflame1 | November 18, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

What if your religion forbids imprisonment?

Posted by: Irato | November 18, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Good one Irato!

Posted by: jennjen | November 18, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice Irato! You just opened a huge can of worms; literally.

Posted by: psuvo | November 18, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: psuvo
Nice Irato! You just opened a huge can of worms; literally.

Unless he is going fishing how did he literally open a can of worms? Moron go back to elementary school.

Posted by: devilsadvoc8 | November 18, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Once you've committed a crime that gets you placed in prison you give up any rights you have to freedom.
If you want to wear dreads just don't be a criminal. If you choose to be a criminal then too bad.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | November 18, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

BLOOD CLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT

Posted by: tsamm | November 18, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

a fat person could hide even more in their belly rolls (and some have). So should we not allow fat people in jail? How hard is it to have the inmate shake out their hair or submit to a quick head check?

i think allowing long hair for religious reasons is a reasonable accommendation.

Do we force women in jail to shave their heads?

I agree we need to keep jails safe for inmates and those working there (guards, medical staff, etc). If someone gets a knife or something in prison, there is already a great risk whether they can hide it in their hair, or up their sleeve, or just use it imediately. I dont see the hair making the jail any safer once that contraband is already inside.

Having a system in place where inmates can earn parole or time off for good behavior goes a lot further towards keeping everyone safe then any haircut could.

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 18, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Devilsadvoc8;

Yikes! I certainly screwed that up. I need more coffee and an edit function.

Posted by: psuvo | November 18, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

BLOOD CLAAAAAAAAT!

RAS CLAAAAAAAAAAT!

BOMBOC CLAAAAAAAAAT!

Posted by: ceefer66 | November 18, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This is complete BS. They're in prison. They have no rights. Or they shouldn't have any rights. Now they get their own jail, and the rest of us (suckers that we are) get the tab.

Where is Sheriff Arpaio?? We need him to be cloned. Everyone is the same, and no one gets special treatment. It's PRISON. They are supposed to be punished for committing crimes. Instead, taxpayers are punished for their ridiculous antics & stupid religious nonsense.

You want to be a rasta, mon? Then don't get sent to the slammer.

Posted by: ms1234 | November 18, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The real quuestion is why they are denying them marijuana.

Posted by: stuart806 | November 18, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Jah works!

Inmates are segregated all of the time. They are moving them all to one prison. The tab will be minimal. Solitary confinement isn't cheap either. Good for the prison system.

Posted by: lingering_lead | November 18, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

a fat person could hide even more in their belly rolls (and some have). So should we not allow fat people in jail? How hard is it to have the inmate shake out their hair or submit to a quick head check?

i think allowing long hair for religious reasons is a reasonable accommendation.

Do we force women in jail to shave their heads?

I agree we need to keep jails safe for inmates and those working there (guards, medical staff, etc). If someone gets a knife or something in prison, there is already a great risk whether they can hide it in their hair, or up their sleeve, or just use it imediately. I dont see the hair making the jail any safer once that contraband is already inside.


Posted by: MarilynManson | November 18, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse
---------------------

You can't just shake out natty dreads, Marilyn. This isn't the long hair of disaffected youth... this is years and or decades worth of long hair not being washed and ultimately turning into one big heady mess.

And, once knives are in prison, they are much more dangerous when they can be further concealed in long hair. It's common sense. You got a knife in your mattress.... dontcha think it's easier to kill your neighbor if you can then walk around with the knife in your natty dreads?

Posted by: lingering_lead | November 18, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Prisoners do have rights.
They are still human beings.
Most will get out one day.
All have families and friends on the outside.
Prisoners that find religion in jail are much more easy and safer to manage.
"what you do for the least of my children, you do for me."

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 18, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Well now I know they don't allow dreds in VA prisons I won't be commiting any crimes in VA.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | November 18, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

It's a racial issue. DC Jail/Federal Prisons/MD Jails allow dreds. VA still thinks the Confederates won, thus they play by their own rules...


STAMPED

Posted by: 4thFloor | November 18, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

If these Rastas had been so righteous and concerned with their religion before committing the crimes that landed them in jail, maybe they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Posted by: TimboK | November 18, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

If these Rastas had been so righteous and concerned with their religion before committing the crimes that landed them in jail, maybe they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Posted by: TimboK | November 18, 2010 2:21 PM
--------------

that certainly is true. However being in jail gives an individual a lot of time to think about their life and how they are living it, etc. In a previous article here in the Post on this, some of the Rastafarians they profiled didn't become all that religious until they were locked up.
So what do you suggest? Attempt to bring religion to people before they commit crimes? That could work. It might also help to have after school programs with sports, the arts, scholastics etc. Job training programs are also beneficial to society. As are job coaches, mentoring and big brother organisations. We also could put more police on the streets and involve the community.
there are thousands of things we could be doing to reduce crime and help people in our community to become productive members of it.

However, forcing people to shave their heads in jail is just mean spirited and counter productive.

Any inmate who finds God, I say good for him and lets see how much better a person that makes them through the way they live their life from now on. let them work in prison and become a model prisoner.

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 18, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

First of all this prison was NOT built to house Rastas, it was constructed in 1990. It is NOT a nice place. While I know society doesn't have a lot of sympathy for CONVICTED law breakers, most people incarcerated do eventually leave prison and re-enter society. Having been in Federal Correctional facilities myself, I have a better than average view of what the Quakers started in this nation over 100 years ago. Our current Judaical System and punishment system is severely broken. The concept of "lock 'em all up and throw away the key" isn't a solution. There are many idle men and women in jails and prisons in this country (over two million) that would jump at the chance to be utilized in a productive manner, rather than warehoused.
I know I'm all over the place, but this is an area my emotions run high.
Back to Va... Draconian is the word that comes to mind. They DO still think the south won, evidence by the statue that keeps getting knocked down on Rt.1, of the confederate soldier with his back to the North. Not to mention having lee/jackson day the day after Dr.Kings birthday. BTW I am Caucasian, born in D.C., educated in prep and private schools. I only state that for the lowest common denominator that might dismiss my statements on purely a misinformed racial bias.

Check:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_United_States

and:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisons_in_the_United_States

Incarnation in this country is BIG Business. CCA didn't incorporate as a 501c. Look at the combined budgets of the US Marshall's Service and the BOP. That just addresses the Federal warehousing system.
I don't have the answers, just the outrage. There are many many intelligent people out there that, if focused, could come up with a feasible plan to fix what is clearly broken.

For me, I no longer commit crimes in Va. or anywhere. I just don't live like that anymore.

Posted by: Rehabilitated | November 18, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Shave their heads and throw them in. You are an inmate. By your actions you have forfeited your rights, your beliefs, your personhood. You are property. Nothing more, nothing less. You did not feel for me when you committed your crimes. I am not obliged to feel for you.

Posted by: luca_20009 | November 18, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

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