Help for RLUIPA Sufferers. 2008 STRIMA Conference. Jeffrey Bratkiewicz. - Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, PC. -Specialize in governmental liability and civil rights defense, with a focus on inmate litigation. -Reactive: 1. Investigation; and 2. Litigation. -Proactive:
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2008 STRIMA Conference
-Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, PC.
-Specialize in governmental liability and civil rights defense, with a focus on inmate litigation.
1. Investigation; and
1. Training; and
2. Consultation and policy evaluation/revision.
RLUIPA is an acronym for the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.”
RLUIPA is a federal statute, and was enacted in 2000. The purpose of the Act was to ostensibly protect religious exercise.
There are two parts to RLUIPA, which are separate and distinct:
SO……WHAT IS RLUIPA?
First Amendment Standard
Prison policies are upheld if “reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.” O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 349 (1987). Factors to consider are:
1. Underlying interest (safety, order, security);
2. Alternatives available to inmate;
3. Impact of accommodating the request; and
4. Whether there are “easy alternatives” to policy or decision.
Also…an inmate must show that the restriction substantially burdens a religious practice that is “fundamental” to his or her religion.
Legitimacy of religious practices and beliefs are typically not questioned, nor should they be, but whether a requested accommodation is “genuine” is fair game.
Inmate must still show a “substantial burden.” If he or she makes that showing, however, it becomes the GOVERNMENT’S burden to show the policy or decision:
1. Is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
2. Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Also, under RLUIPA, “religious exercise” is defined to
include “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”
-Inmate demands for religious property can range from the ordinary…to the extraordinary, and the treatment of the claims by federal courts are sometimes inconsistent:
1. The State can refuse federal prison funding. RLUIPA only applies to recipients of federal prison funding.
2. Change the policy or practice.* RLUIPA has a safe-harbor provision that allows a State to avoid liability.
3. Know and rely upon the PLRA.
4. Other considerations…
A. Proactive; and
THE PLRA APPLIES TO RLUIPA!
1. Mandatory screening of inmate pro se lawsuits;
2. Limiting the scope of available relief;
3. Requiring payment of filing fees; and
4. “Three strikes” provision.
1. Prison policies.
-Administrative remedy procedure.
2. Training and education for staff in all of the above.
Reactive steps and additional considerations:
1 According to Supreme Court, States need not supply inmates with devotional accessories, even under RLUIPA.
2. Internal prison records should show safety, security and/or administrative reasons supporting denial of a request.
3. Be sure to raise all constitutional defenses.
4. Be sure to raise all defenses under PLRA.
5. Settlement/Safe Harbor Provision might be an option, but tread carefully.
6. RLUIPA does not require States to do the impossible, nor must correctional officials abandon common sense.
Department of Corrections
Home on the Range
A rancher riding along the range (you know, where the deer and the antelope play) jumps off his horse and runs up to a buffalo.
He tells the buffalo, “You are the most miserable excuse for a buffalo I have ever seen. Just look at you, you have bloodshot eyes, your hair is all matted, and you stink!”
The rancher mounts up and rides off leaving the buffalo in wonderment.
The buffalo looks around at the others in his herd and says, ”I do believe I just heard a discouraging word.”
Types of Inmate Litigation
Public Disclosure/Freedom of Information
Public Disclosure/Freedom of Information
Public Disclosure Stats
Number of Requests 6,736
Staff Hours 17,115
Pages Made Available 474,056
Pages Paid For 132,509
The Impact of Class Action Lawsuits
Risk Management Director
Washington State Department of Corrections