BEEVILLE, Texas (AP) — Three male Native American inmates in Texas are now allowed to grow their hair long as an expression of their religious beliefs after winning a lawsuit against the state prison system.
The Houston Chronicle reports that a federal judge’s ruling last month only affects the three inmates at the McConnell Unit near Beeville, but their arguments could apply to future lawsuits involving any of the more than 5,000 Native American prisoners in the state.
The inmates’ lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice argued that Native American spiritual beliefs regard hair as an extension of the soul.
Attorneys for the state argued that allowing male prisoners to have long hair hinders inmate identification and could present a suicide risk.
The state is considering an appeal.