ACLU of Alaska sues Alaska Dept. of Corrections for denial of religious accommodations

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 1:07 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska is suing the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) for denial of religious accommodations for Muslim people held at the Anchorage Correctional Center (ACC).

The federal suit alleges staff at the ACC complex frequently prevented inmate William Gary from wearing his religious head covering, have refused to accommodate his prayer needs and have also insulted his Muslim faith, according to a ACLU press release.

Gary is bringing the class action suit on behalf of all current and future Muslims held at ACC.

“Mr. Gary’s case is a blatant example of DOC and its staff failing to meet the constitutional rights of incarcerated Alaskans,” said Melody Vidmar, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alaska. “Not only were Mr. Gary’s religious requests reasonable, but they are well within his rights. Incarcerated and detained people do not leave their religion at the jailhouse doors, nor do they leave their constitutional rights behind either.”

Gary has been in pre-trial custody since Feb. 2022 at the Anchorage Correctional Center awaiting trial on a murder charge.

A spokeswoman for the DOC says officials have no comment because they have not yet seen the suit.