Imagine being in jail, and you receive a letter from your mother. It says: “Dear Son…” It goes on for a paragraph, and then the rest of it is a big, gaping hole, where prison censors have cut—with scissors—biblical passages that your mom thought you might find comforting during your incarceration. The big hole is followed by: “Love, Mom.”
This actually happened to an inmate in Virginia’s Rappahannock Regional Jail, where jail policy mandates that officials censor biblical passages from letters written to detainees. Today, the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia sent a letter to Rappahannock’s superintendent, Joseph Higgs, Jr., asking him to end this policy, as it violates both detainees’ and letter-writers’ First Amendment rights.
Daniel Mach, Director of Litigation for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in a statement today: “It is essential that jail officials abide by the law and the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. People do not lose their right to religious worship simply because they are incarcerated.”