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Inmate wants permission for hairstyle based on his religion

January 19, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An inmate at the Adult Correctional Institutions is suing the state Department of Corrections because it has sanctioned him for his hair style, which he says is based on his religious beliefs.

Christopher Banks, 24, of Westerly, seeks in the suit filed in U.S. District Court to remove penalties he’s been given for wearing his hair short on the sides and long on top, the Providence Journal reported Tuesday.

He says he has worn his hair in the style of Viking warriors for many years as a part of his pagan beliefs.

The Department of Corrections acknowledged that Banks has been sanctioned, lost privileges and lost good time for maintaining “an extreme hairstyle,” the newspaper reported. Good time refers to the reduction of a sentence for good behavior. The department denied other accusations in the suit.

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Banks pleaded no contest to second-degree child abuse in 2018 for abusing the 3-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, the newspaper reported. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with seven to serve.

Banks also says in the suit that the department lacks a policy governing hair styles. The court has denied a request from Banks to appoint him an attorney, the newspaper reported.