High court rejects appeal over long hair in prison

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from Native American inmates who want to wear their hair long in Alabama prisons.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the state’s prison system could keep in place its policy requiring male inmates to cut hair short.

Inmates argued that keeping their hair long is part of core Native American religious traditions. But prison officials said long hair was a hygiene risk and could be used to conceal weapons and contraband.

The 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that many other prison systems allow inmates to follow the grooming practices of their religion. But the appeals court ruled that Alabama’s system could make its own assessment on the benefits and risks.

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