Sukhjinder Basra is a Sikhserving time in California’s prison system for a drug offense. As an article of faith, Basra has a full grown beard and has refused to shave it off in compliance with prison regulations, which stipulate that an inmate may have no longer than a half inch of facial hair. As a result of violating the rules, he has been assigned extra prison duties, been confined to his bunk for 10 days and had 30 days of good behaviour removed from his prison record.
First the ACLU protested his treatment and now the Department of Justice has taken on the case by bringing a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections and Governor Jerry Brown under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. According to the DOJ, the prison’s grooming policy “…substantially burdens the rights of an inmate to practice his Sikh faith.”