Natty Dread Lockdown

Is Kendall Gibson the victim of religious persecution?

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Kendall Gibson, a Rastafarian inmate serving forty-seven years on a robbery, abduction and gun charges, has been in solitary confinement for nearly 4,000 days as he is in violation of Virginia correctional laws regarding hair length

 

Unless something drastic and unexpected changes, or Gibson decides to cut his hair, Virginia Department of Corrections regulations make sure that Gibson will stay in solitary for a very long time.
You see, in 1999, the Virginia Department of Corrections established a rule that inmates must not wear their hair below their collar and must not wear beards. Prisoners who refuse to cut their hair and shave their beards serve their time in administrative segregation. The American Correctional Chaplains Association reports that Virginia is one of about a dozen, mostly Southern, states that regulate the length of inmates hair and beards. And even several of those provide consideration for religious beliefs of " Rastafarians, Muslims, Sikhs, Native Americans and others, whose religious beliefs prohibit shaving or cutting their hair."
On the other side of the argument, prison officials make a case that weapons can be hidden in massive hair growth and any inmate refusing to comply with the Virginia Department of Corrections rules and regulations is being defiant and deserves to be punished with restrictions.
At this point, Gibson is resolute about not cutting his hair and combats his confinement with spiritual commitment.
While some view growing their hair as optional, most Rastafarians see it as demanded by the Nazarite Vow in the Bible (Numbers 6:5): "There shall no razor come upon his head."

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