South Dakota Inmate Group Wants Tobacco Ban Lifted

December 18, 2009

Author: Dirk Lammers

Source: Indian Country Today

Wire Service: AP

A group of Native American inmates has filed a federal lawsuit against the South Dakota Department of Corrections, saying a new prison policy that bans the use of tobacco during religious ceremonies is discriminatory.

The Native American Council of Tribes, an organization based at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, asked the U.S. District Court to prevent the policy from being enforced. Inmate Blaine Brings Plenty, the group’s chairman, said in the complaint that for Native American prayer to be effective, “it must be embodied in ‘tobacco’ and offered within a ceremonial framework.”