Rastafarians face solitary confinement for not obeying prison regulations and cutting hair
Several Rastafarians in Virginia’s prison system have spent years in solitary confinement, because they refuse to cut their hair. But as Charles Fishburne reports, attempts to coerce them to conform to prison rules have so far had limited success.
Several Rastafarians have been transferred to a high-security prison. Corrections officials say they can come back if they will cut their hair, but at least nine say they won’t do it. Roberto Chavez says they believe it's against God’s will for them to cut their hair and the prison regulations threaten to strip them of their beliefs.
Some have been in solitary for a decade over those beliefs. A court appeal in 2003 failed, and it appears at least for them, the stalemate continues. Prison officials say it's a security issue. They could hide weapons or drugs in their hair or beard.
Virginia is one of only 12 states that has such a policy. Chavez says it is just segregation by another name.
Charles Fishburne, WCVE News