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CUCF prisoners claim they are denied

their right to say weekly prayers

 

2-13-2020

 

GUNNISION—Two Muslim inmates at the Utah State Prison have filed a federal lawsuit because they say prison officials are preventing them from their weekly prayers.

According to news reports, Christopher Tolton, 44, and Davey Joe Williams, 42, have filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction ordering the prison to allow the two men to congregate for their Friday noon prayers.

Kaitlin Felsted, a public information officer for the Utah Department of Corrections, stated, “The Department does not comment on pending litigation. However, our staff works hard to accommodate the religious exercise of all inmates while also maintaining the safety and security of the Department’s correctional facilities.”

According to the lawsuit, prison officials have denied the two men regular Friday prayers for several years. Tolton and Williams used the prison grievance process to request regular weekly prayers, but have been refused. The suit claims the prison is violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

A lawyer for the two men, Tyler Hawkins said being able to practice their religion in accordance with its mandates is critical to their rehabilitation in prison, according to KLS News.

Tolton is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of a 21-year-old man during a drug buy. Williams served time for being an accomplice in the killing before being paroled. He’s now in prison for aggravated assault in a 2011 case involving his girlfriend.