Court Strikes Down Ban On Inmates’ Beards

2015

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules that the state of Arkansas cannot bar a Muslim prisoner from growing a beard in accordance with his religion. In Holt v. Hobbs, the Court says the state prison regulations violated the religious liberty rights of the inmates. The prisoner, Gregory Holt, who had filed a handwritten petition to the Court, sought to grow a half-inch beard. The state said its policy addressed security concerns because inmates could hide weapons in their beards. The Court points out that more than 40 state prison systems and the federal system allow short beards and that it was difficult to take seriously the state’s security concern.