In News from Wisconsin’s Baraboo News Republic, “Prisons to change headwear policy” with thanks to Two Stellas.
MADISON – Wisconsin Secretary of Corrections Matthew Frank is ordering a change in the department’s headwear policy for prison visitors, just one day after a Muslim woman sued his department in U.S. District Court for allegedly violating her religious beliefs by forcing her to remove a headscarf during a visit.
Frank said Thursday his order was directly prompted by the claim filed by 43-year-old Cynthia Rhouni, a Madison woman who visited her husband at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage in February 2003. As Rhouni checked in for her visit, two male guards forced Rhouni to remove her headscarf, or hijab, despite her pleas to let a female guard conduct an inspection of her hijab to prove she wasn’t carrying any contraband.
Frank said he was “very concerned about the allegations,” and said he ordered the change without thinking about its impact on the lawsuit.
“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Frank said.
The department-wide policy at issue in the lawsuit took effect in January 2003, Frank said. “As part of that policy, there was a provision that went into effect that said, among other things, hats and headgear are not allowed. That policy did not specifically address headwear that may be worn as part of someone’s religious beliefs,” he continued.
“It’s certainly not our intent in any way to discriminate against anyone based on their religious beliefs,” Frank said. Department policies are intended to provide a safe and secure facility for inmates, staff and visitors, he said…