Judge Rejects Challenge to Prison Pastoral Rules

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A federal judge has rejected a challenge brought by a group of Kentucky death row inmates to rules governing how and when pastors visit them at the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell concluded that prison officials temporarily suspended pastoral visits at the maximum security prison in Eddyville for security reasons and to bring the prison's regulations in line with Kentucky Department of Corrections regulations.

Russell also concluded that prison officials did not retaliate against inmates who complained about the change in policy.

Five death row inmates sued the Department of Corrections in 2011 alleging violations of their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which governs religion in prisons.

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