North Carolina transgender inmate suing prison over right to practice witchcraft
A transgender inmate is suing a North Carolina prison over the right to practice witchcraft.
Jennifer Ann Jasmaine is suing the all-male Lanesboro Correctional Institution for violating her constitutional rights by dictating when, where and how she can practice Wicca, a religion based on ancient pagan beliefs, the Charlotte Observer reported, citing a lawsuit filed this month.
The 40-year-old argues that Christian and Native American inmates at the facility are allowed to practice their respective religious beliefs, while chaplains block her from practicing witchcraft.
Jasmaine also claims Lanesboro refused to provide her with the necessary food required for the Wiccan diet.
State policy says North Carolina prisons “shall provide access for approved religious services or practices and pastoral care.” Inmates wanting to practice a religion not recognized by the prison system must fill out a religious assistance request form – something Jasmaine says she did a month ago.
In addition to the food, Jasmaine has also asked the prison to provide the proper clothes and religious items needed to conduct the services she wants to hold twice a week.
“Ms. Jasmaine’s religion is not just her religion. It’s her way of life,” the lawsuit says. “This is the path in which she has taken.”
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and $1 in damages from each of the chaplains.
Jasmaine — formerly Duane L. Fox — is serving 16 years in prison for second-degree sexual offense.
Jerry Higgins, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, declined to comment Wednesday, citing pending litigation.