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Va. Prisoners Held in Isolation for Refusing to Cut their Hair

June 30, 2010

Nearly 50 Virginia prisoners are being held in perpetual isolation because they refuse to cut their hair.

Following an Associated Press story about 10 Rastafarian inmates who had been in segregation for 10 years for ignoring the state's grooming policy, Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker ordered a count of the inmates who were being held in isolation because of the policy.

The review found 48 inmates were being held in segregation for refusing to follow the policy, which calls for hair to be kept above the shirt collar and bans beards. Of those, 13 were Rastafarian, who view growing their hair as a tenet of their religion.

Officials say the review does not mean the policy will change. Civil rights and religious advocates say it violates the prisoners' freedom to worship.

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