WAUKESHA - The Waukesha County Jail has revised a policy which previously prohibited individuals held in disciplinary cells from possessing religious material other than a jail-issued Bible. The restriction was removed from the facility’s official handbook soon after the ACLU of Wisconsin wrote a letter calling on Sheriff Severson to comply with constitutional standards and end the ban.
“Freedom of religion is fundamental to our democracy and guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is paramount that those incarcerated in our jails and prisons have the ability to practice their religion free from government interference or proselytizing, ” said Asma Kadri-Keeler, ACLU of Wisconsin staff attorney. “We appreciate Sheriff Severson fulfilling his constitutional obligation to accommodate religious beliefs of all kinds, ensuring that all religious texts will be available to those who want them. Too often, the rights of incarcerated individuals to express non-traditional spiritual beliefs are overlooked or outright ignored. We hope Waukesha can serve as a model for how correctional institutions can guarantee religious autonomy to those in their custody.”