Ill. Inmate Can Pursue Religious-Liberty Lawsuit Over Pat-Down

February 8, 2010

Author: David L. Hudson Jr.

Source: First Amendment Center

An Illinois prison inmate’s claim that officials violated his religious-liberty rights by allowing a female staff member to search him has survived initial review by a federal judge. However, the judge rejected his sexual-harassment claim, saying that such a claim did not present a First Amendment issue.

Yaphet K. Jamal, incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute in Pekin, Ill., contended that in June 2009, Religious Services Coordinator Teri Garrett called him over for a pat-down search after a noon meal. Jamal alleges that Garrett, as the religious-services official, knew that his Muslim beliefs prohibited physical contact with a member of the opposite sex other than a parent or spouse. Jamal also alleged that Garrett denied his request to have the pat-down conducted by a male prison official.