Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jason Paul Indreland's religious freedom lawsuit in Montana (U.S.A.)

A possibly interesting legal case: a lawsuit filed by Jason Paul Indreland, an inmate at Montana State Prison, against Yellowstone County for alleged civil-rights violations. According to the news story Satanist inmate sues county, Billings Gazette, February 19, 2009:
Jason Paul Indreland claims in the U.S. District Court lawsuit that county jail staff took from him a religious medallion, denied him access to religious material and ridiculed and punished him for his religious beliefs.

The lawsuit also alleges that Indreland was denied medical care for his drug addiction, that he was placed in situations where violence was expected and that he suffered harassment and retaliation while incarcerated.

Indreland said he has been a practicing Satanist for the past decade and the confiscated medallion was a "protective symbol" in his religion. The lawsuit claims jail staff refused to return the medallion or allow Indreland access to a "Satanic Bible or Book of Satanic Rituals."

Indreland, 35, is incarcerated at Montana State Prison for a term of five years, with two years suspended, for felony drug possession. Indreland was convicted of the crime after Billings police found him with 15 grams of methamphetamine in March 2007.

According to a recent follow-up story, Satanist settles lawsuit against Yellowstone County for $50, Billings Gazette, Thursday, June 10, 2010:
Deputy County Attorney Kevin Gillen said the inmate, Jason Paul Indreland, has accepted the county’s offer that includes the cash amount and a commitment to review how jail inmate requests are processed at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility.


The final agreement has yet to be signed and returned by Indreland, who was recently transferred from the Crossroads Correctional Facility in Shelby to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

Gillen said the county agreed to review jail inmate request procedures because the basis for denying Indreland’s request for satanic literature was not fully explained to him. Such literature is not allowed in prisons and jails across the country, Gillen said, because it promotes violence.

Hello? Satanic literature promotes violence? Depends on the particular form of Satanism, I guess. There are plenty of established Satanist groups, of various kinds, that do not promote violent crime.

There are those who promote violence in the name of other categories of religion too, including Christianity. But this obviously doesn't mean all literature of the entire religious category should be prohibited.

Unfortunately, LaVey's Satanic Bible (referred to in one of the news stories) does have sections that can be taken as promoting violence -- though only if taken out of the context of the Church of Satan's overall doctrine, which requires members to be law-abiding. LaVey did advocate vengeance, but only by legal means.

Another recent news story: Jailed Satanist's $10 million lawsuit against Billings jail settled for $50, Great Falls Tribune, June 10, 2010

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