LAFAYETTE - The ACLU has asked the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office to amend policies pertaining to dress requirements at the jail after a Muslim woman allegedly was not allowed to wear a hijab while incarcerated there, according to a news release.
The woman was incarcerated at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on July 8 for traffic violations, the release said.
As part of her religion, the woman is required to wear her head covered as a show of modesty, according to a release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. The woman asked to wear the hijab and was denied.
“Forced to compromise her sincerely held beliefs, the former inmate was further humiliated by having to appear before men and in public uncovered,” the ACLU said.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, wrote in a letter to Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom that she reviewed the policies of the jail and found no mention of head coverings and no exemptions to the permitted dress, which consists of one set of issued clothes, one set of boxers/briefs and a bra, one T-shirt and one set of issued foot wear.
The letter was set to Neustrom Tuesday and asks him to confirm that changes to the policy have been made within 14 days from the date of this letter.
“For a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, being denied it is akin to being stripped naked,” Esman said in the release. “This woman asked nothing more than to wear religiously mandated garb, and she was denied that fundamental right. Louisiana law and the U.S. Constitution, require governments to accommodate religious beliefs unless there is a compelling interest, which simply does not exist in this case.”
The Sheriff’s Office has not yet responded to a request for comment.