48 inmates in Virginia jails are being punished after authorities say they won’t comply with the state’s rules that requires hair to be kept above a shirt collar and prohibits beards.
The Associated Press previously reported in May that 10 Rastafarian inmates had been in segregation for more than 10 years for refusing to comply with the grooming policy, which calls for hair to be kept above the shirt collar and bans beards.
Now new numbers have been uncovered and show that 48 men are being isolated for the “crime.”
Of the inmates being segregated, 14 of them are Rastafarians who view their dreadlocks as a testament to their religion.
Kendall Gibson [pictured] was previously featured in an article by the press for his isolation which has kept him tucked away from general population for more than ten years.
Described as a “Rastafarian God” whose serving 47 years on robbery, abduction and gun charges, he tells the AP,
“People always ask how I can smile in a place so negative. Jah is my answer. Without Jah in my life I wouldn’t be able to handle it.”
A number of the people being segregated are believed to be Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Native Americans and others whose religious belief calls for them not to cut their hair.
The Department of Corrections says that the policy is necessary to prevent inmates from hiding contraband in their hair and to prevent them from quickly changing their appearance should they happen to escape.
Virginia is one of about a dozen states that require inmates to cut their hair and beard.