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WILL demands religious freedom in prisons

Posted at 6:05 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Brillion News

MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a pro-constitution law firm and research group, sent a letter to Wisconsin Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr giving notice that DOC policies preventing members of the clergy from visiting inmates in prison in person is a violation of the constitution that guarantees inmates the right to practice religious faith while incarcerated.

"Wisconsin's Department of Corrections is violating Wisconsin inmates' rights to freely worship and partake in in-person religious services," said WILL attorney Anthony LoCoco in a letter to Carr. "We expect DOC to rescind this policy due to the numerous ways it violates state and federal constitutional guarantees."

The policy banning in-prison clergy visits has been in place since March 13, 2020. It was announced as "temporary" but remains in place.

State law specifically gives clergy the opportunity, at least once a week, to conduct religious service within state prisons. It also says that every inmate "shall receive, upon request, religious ministration and sacraments according to the inmate's faith."

The letter said WILL expects the DOC to inform it of changes in the policy by Thursday, April 8.

In the letter, WILL said: "While the illegality of such a draconian policy should be self-evident, we are sending this letter to confirm that the DOC is indeed violating state and federal statutory and constitutional law by indefinitely denying inmates the basic freedom to exercise their religion."

The letter was signed by LoCoco and by WILL President Richard M. Esenberg.

It also threatens legal action unless the prisons are reopened to members of the clergy and to worship by inmates.


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