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Touro Law Review

Abstract

Circuits are split as there continues to be an inconsistent application of Supreme Court doctrine stemming from the notion of the separation of church and the state. Imprisonment does not strip a wrongdoer of his constitutionally guaranteed rights and protections. Some Circuits have held that a minor, or de minimis, interpretation of an inmate’s religious rights can constitute a substantial burden under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. In the absence of clear direction from the Supreme Court, I propose that courts should refrain from determining the value of a religious belief or practice as it relates to a religious adherent and err on the side of providing religious accommodations whenever reasonable. This would follow the intended goal of the religious-question doctrine and protect constitutionally guaranteed rights as well as likely benefit the society and the individual wrongdoer in his efforts towards maintaining a law-abiding lifestyle.

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