BLOUNTVILLE — Representatives of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice are expected to be here next week for a daylong meeting with county officials. The purpose: To try and resolve complaints alleging violation of the religious freedoms of some county jail inmates.
County Attorney Dan Street is meeting with jail officials today to go over what they should expect from the visit next week.
Asked Wednesday by the Times-News to elaborate on what the Department of Justice’s visit is all about, Street stressed DOJ officials have repeatedly said their intent is not an adversarial one, but simply to prompt compliance with federal law on inmates’ right to access religious texts and articles.
Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson received a letter from the DOJ on Dec. 1.
“The Department of Justice has received information indicating that detainees at the Sullivan County Jail are not permitted access to religious texts such as the Koran and to religious articles including prayer rugs and kufis,” a DOJ special counsel wrote. “In addition, we received allegations that Muslim detainees do not have access to group prayer services at the Sullivan County Jail, though group prayer services are available to members of some religious groups.”
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