The Supreme Court’s ruling in Holt v. Hobbs earlier this year has had a swift impact on prison rules in Arkansas. The Court ruled the ban on 1/2 inch beards unlawful when worn for religious reasons. Now the state has adopted an even more lenient policy: beards of any length may be worn if required by religious beliefs.
Arkansas Online reports:
The department’s new policy allows inmates to request a religious exemption for beard and hair length, and it does not limit the length of either.
Holt’s attorney, University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, called Thursday’s policy change a “very constructive response.”
“It sounds like they’re trying to fix the problem before it becomes a problem,” Laycock said.
The majority of the nation’s prison systems allow for beards and do not restrict the length, Arkansas Deputy Attorney General David Curran said.
Kelley added that the length limit in Holt’s case was specific to Holt’s request. Setting a length limit could spur continual requests and possible lawsuits from prisoners requesting a longer beard because their religion dictates a certain length, she added.
You can see the Baptist Joint Committee’s resource page on Holt v. Hobbs here.