- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gregory Holt, a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas, won the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval to grow and maintain a beard behind bars, in accordance with his religious beliefs.

Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously Tuesday in favor of Holt, who’s serving a life sentence for stabbing his ex-girlfriend in the chest and neck.

His case stems from his request to prison officials to grow his beard because of religious principles. He was denied; prison authorities said that beards were a safety risk because inmates could use them to conceal weapons, The Hill reported.

So Holt sued, citing a 2000 law that protects the religious rights of inmates.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, The Hill reported: “We readily agree that the [Arkansas Department of Correction] has a compelling interest in staunching the flow of contraband into and within its facilities, but the argument that this interest would be seriously compromised by allowing an inmate to grow a half-inch beard is hard to take seriously.”

Mr. Alito noted the prison didn’t outlaw hair on the head from growing longer than a half inch.

“Hair on the head is a more plausible place to hide contraband than a half-inch beard — and the same is true of an inmate’s clothing and shoes,” he wrote, The Hill reported. “Nevertheless, the Department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked.”



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