Muslim Inmate Challenges Prison TV Ban in Fourth Circuit

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A Fourth Circuit panel seemed willing to revive a Muslim inmate’s lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections over a ban on watching religious services on TV.


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Alfonza Greenhill was convicted of assault, robbery, and firearms-related offenses and sentenced to over 15 years in prison in 2007.

His time in behind bars has been fraught with behavioral issues, including tampering with prison equipment and assaulting guards, according to court records.


Now in solitary confinement at Red Onion State Prison, Greenhill says he is a practicing Muslim and the prison system is failing to protect his religious freedom by denying him access to a televised, weekly religious service know as Jumu’ah.

Greenhill took the state prison system to court, but a federal judge ruled in favor of Virginia and found that the restrictions were in the interest of security.

While the Fourth Circuit judges seemed troubled Thursday by Greenhill’s disciplinary record, they seemed more concerned with a corrections department program called Step-Down, which incentivizes good behavior by offering access to TV and denying it to inmates who misbehave.

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