WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Department of Justice has filed a complaint against a South Carolina sheriff for letting one of his prisons bar inmates from reading anything but the Bible.
In the complaint filed this week in a Charleston court, the Justice Department said requests by numerous inmates at Berkeley County Detention Center for everything from correspondence course materials and magazines to legal newsletters have been denied by the office of Sheriff H. Wayne DeWitt.
"Indeed, the only book, magazine, newspaper or religious publication that defendants consistently permit prisoners to possess is the Bible," the complaint read.
Prison officers even hand out King James Bibles for free to prisoners, but a Jewish prisoner who asked for a Torah and two Muslim inmates who requested copies of the Koran were told they could only have them if family members personally delivered the holy books to the jail.
When one of the Muslim inmates arranged for his girlfriend to bring a Koran to the prison, the sheriff's office refused to pass it on to the prisoner.
The Justice Department said the practice violates several laws and the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.