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EXCLUSIVE REPORT: LAKEWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT ACCUSED OF VIOLATING FEDERAL LAW BY DENYING ORTHODOX JEWISH MAN RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION ON SHABBOS




One of the protections of the U.S. Constitution is the right to free exercise of religion.


The 1987 case of Turner v. Safley found that "prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution.”


Subsequently, in 2000, Congress responded by passing the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).


The RLUIPA prohibits prisons and institutions from "substantially burdening the religious exercise of its prisoners."


RLUIPA is to be construed broadly to provide the maximum protection permitted by the Constitution. This means that prison officials should be looking for ways to accommodate religious practices, not excuses to prohibit them.


The U.S. Supreme Court in Cutter v. Wilkinson upheld RLUIPA, finding that prisoners have their liberty curtailed to a great degree, so they are at the mercy of the government in their ability to practice their religion. Removing the burden on practicing religion is simply restoring the inmates’ religious liberty.


Oddly, one jail that seems to have NOT received the memo is at the Lakewood, New Jersey Police Department, a FAA News investigation reveals.


An Orthodox Jewish man was arrested on a Friday afternoon by Officer J. Rusk, badge #388.


By the time the man was processed in the police station, it was already Shabbos.


During processing, officers attempted to take his fingerprints, as required pursuant to NJ Rev Stat § 53:1-15 (which requires law enforcement officers to immediately, upon the arrest of any person, take their fingerprints).


The man immediately told the officers that he could not use the electronic scanner due to his religious observance.


The officers didn't give him any accommodation. Instead they charged him with a violation of § 53:1-15. That is a disorderly offense and it landed him with criminal charges which remain active and pending in Superior Court.


Public records obtained by FAA News indicate that the man is represented by the Public Defender.






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