United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kenneth Snowden, David Francis, Kevin Stewart, Darnell
Munden, Duran Carrington, and Michael Harris have sued the
Prince George's County Department of Corrections and
several of its employees-namely, the Director, Mary Lou
McDonough, in her official capacity, the Deputy Director of
the Bureau of Operations, Colonel Mark E. Person, in his
official capacity, the Deputy Director of the Bureau of
Administration, Correne Labbe, in her official capacity, and
the Chaplain, Reverend James Penn, in his official and
individual capacities-alleging various statutory and
constitutional violations of their right to the free practice
and exercise of religion. ECF No. 12. Defendants have moved
to dismiss certain counts in the Amended Complaint and ask
that Prince George's County, Maryland, be substituted as
the sole Defendant in the case. ECF No. 21.
reasons that follow, the Court will
DENY-IN-PART Defendants' Motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
are all Muslim inmates currently detained at Prince
George's County Department of Corrections (the DOC). ECF
No. 12 ¶¶ 10-15. The DOC confines sentenced persons
in its facilities as well as those awaiting trial and
promulgates policies, customs, and practices regarding the
religious exercise of its inmates. Specifically, the DOC has
a Religious Services Policy that states in pertinent part:
Religious services, study and counseling (including crisis
intervention) are conducted and coordinated by the
Center's Chaplain and approved volunteers. The Chaplain
is a full-time nondenominational chaplain available to assist
you with your religious needs. Services are offered daily
and/or weekly depending on your housing unit . . . . If you
are interested in any religious services or counseling
assistance, you must submit an Inmate Request for Information
form to the Chaplain's office . . . .
Id. ¶ 31.
McDonough, Person, and Labbe (Official Capacity Defendants)
are all employees of the DOC with authority to approve DOC
policies, including policies regarding religious services for
inmates. Id. ¶¶ 17-19. Defendant Penn is
the DOC's Chaplain and has supervisory authority and
control over the approval and coordination of religious
services requests by inmates. Id. ¶ 20.
having a Religious Services Policy, Plaintiffs allege that
Defendants have not permitted Muslim inmates to perform
Friday religious services or daily congregational prayers.
Plaintiffs have each requested to perform such services.
Because the DOC has refused to provide them with the
appropriate form to request a religious accommodation,
Plaintiffs have written these requests on other forms or on
blank sheets of paper. Id. ¶¶ 42-43.
However, Defendants have purportedly taken the requests and
refused to process them. Id. ¶ 44.
Plaintiffs, along with several other Muslim inmates at the
facility, signed a petition requesting to perform Friday
religious services and daily congregational prayers, which
they say they gave to Defendant Penn. These requests were
denied without explanation. Id. ¶¶ 45-46.
event that Plaintiffs do perform a religious service or
congregational prayer, they are threatened with a
disciplinary ticket, locked down in their cell, or held in
solitary confinement. Id. ¶¶ 34-35.
other hand, Plaintiffs submit that Christian inmates are
permitted to perform religious services and attend daily
classes in groups of approximately 25-30 individuals.
Id. ¶¶ 36-37. In fact, Plaintiffs allege,
neither Christian inmates nor inmates that subscribe to any
other faith, besides Islam, have been given a ticket, locked
down in their cell, or held in solitary confinement for
performing a congregational prayer or religious service.
Id. at 38.
nonreligious groups are also permitted to congregate and,
according to Plaintiffs, regularly meet in groups of
approximately 25-30 individuals. Id. at 39.
on these allegations, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint on January
18, 2018, which they subsequently amended on January 23,
2018. ECF No. 12. The Amended Complaint states six causes of
action: 1) violation of Plaintiffs' right to free
exercise of religion under the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against the DOC and
Official Capacity Defendants; 2) religious discrimination in
violation of RLUIPA against the DOC and Official Capacity
Defendants; 3) violation of Plaintiffs' right to free
exercise of religion in violation of the First and Fourteenth
Amendments of the U.S. Constitution against all Defendants;
4) Equal Protection Clause violations against all Defendants;