Sikh Inmates Caught In Maze Of Vague Rules

December 24, 2009

Author: Sunita Sohrabji

Source: SikhNet/India West

California state prisons continue to operate under a patchwork mosaic of policy for accommodating Sikh religion-mandated turbans and beards, despite three-year-old regulations specifically crafted to meet the community’s religious requirements.

Many state prison facilities are unaware that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation created regulations in 2006 governing Sikh religious attire, designed to bring the state in line with federal laws.

Officials contacted by India-West at San Quentin State Prison, California State Prison, Solano, and the CDCR itself were unaware of the new policy.

The new regulations are adjustments to California Penal Code Section 3000 regarding grooming in prison, and now permit acceptable “hair holding devices” in state facilities.

An old regulation, stating that hair not exceed three inches, has been struck out, along with regulations applying to beard length.

However, the regulations stipulate that each prison facility must form a religious review committee, which would then determine requests for religious accommodation on a case-by-case basis.