(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/26/10) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today that the Arkansas Department Corrections (ADC) has apologized for a December 2009 incident in which a Muslim visitor to a prison in Pine Bluff, Ark., was barred from entering the facility because of her Islamic head scarf, or hijab. The woman, who was willing to submit to a pat-down search by a female officer, was prevented from entering even though she had passed through a metal detector without setting it off.
When the woman stated that she wears her scarf for religious reasons, she was allegedly told that religious accommodation is provided to inmates, but not visitors.
In a letter to CAIR, an ADC representative apologized for “any embarrassment and inconvenience” experienced by the Muslim visitor. That official told CAIR that women wearing head coverings for religious or medical reasons may be searched in a private area by a female security officer.
CAIR publishes a booklet, called “A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to prevent just such incidents.