Native-American inmates in Alabama continue fight over prison system’s rule against having long hair
11th Circuit ruling sided with Ala. Corrections Department
Doug Dark Horns Bailey held the silver-and-brown strands of his hair, gathered in two tails running down his back. This, he said, was sacred.
“Long before science ever heard of DNA, our ancestors knew our essence was contained in our hair,” said Bailey, an artist and Creek Indian who lives in Wetumpka. “Long, long before they ever started using DNA, we believed our essence was in our hair. That’s why we don’t cut it.”
While serving an 18-year sentence for robbery in the Alabama prison system, Bailey reconnected with his faith, and said it was key to helping him reform his ways and stay out of legal trouble.
“I just felt reconnected again,” he said. “I felt like myself again. I felt like a real individual, and not some lost, castaway soul.”
Bailey, released in 2004, is a plaintiff in a long-running suit brought by Native-American inmates against the Alabama Department of Corrections over religious rights. The suit, which dates back to 1993, has opened the door for some practices for inmates. However, DOC policies require all male inmates to keep hair cut short, and that remains a point of contention. (more…)