Sikh Prisoners in California Ordered to Remove Turbans and Cut Hair

November 9, 2005

Source: India Post

On November 9, 2005 India Post reported, "Two California prisons, Solano State Prison and San Quentin State Prison, have disallowed its Sikh prisoners from wearing any head covering, including a dastaar [turban]. The prisons have also punished the Sikh prisoners for refusing to comply with orders to cut their hair. California Code of Regulations § 3062(e), which governs prison inmate grooming standards, states that a 'male inmate's hair shall not be longer than three inches and shall not extend over the eyebrows or below the top of the shirt collar while standing upright.' The rule contains no exemptions for religious reasons. While the regulation says that prison officials may not use any force to ensure compliance with its grooming standards, officials may punish inmates who refuse to comply. In this case the Sikh inmates have lost recreation time, phone call rights, and have lost credits that would reduce their time in prison. In addition to punishing Sikhs for refusing to cut their hair, prison officials have also refused to allow Sikh prisoners to wear turbans or any head covering. Nevertheless, Jewish and Muslim prisoners are allowed to wear their respective religious headdress according to the Sikh prisoners. The Sikh prisoners’ requests that they also be allowed to wear their religious headdress have so far gone unfulfilled at both prisons."