One of North Carolina’s most notorious all-male prisons is the focus of a court fight over religious liberty led by a mentall ill “transgender witch”.
The inmate (Duane Fox) who now calls himself “Jennifer Ann Jasmaine” says in his handwritten, federal lawsuit that Lanesboro Correctional Institution is blocking the practice of his spiritual beliefs, which happen to be rooted in witchcraft.
“Jasmaine”, a former Mecklenburg County Jail inmate, filed his complaint this month. In 2015, as inmate Duane Fox, (s)he sued Maury Correctional Institute in Hookerton on the same grounds, reports the Charlotte Observer.
A spokesman for the state prison system declined to comment on the case.
“Jasmaine” (Duane Fox), 40, says the chaplains in charge of religious services at Lanesboro have violated his constitutional rights by restricting when, where and how (s)he can practice Wicca, the modern-day religion very loosely based on ancient pagan beliefs.
The prison also has refused to provide the foods Wiccans are supposed to eat, his lawsuit says.
Under state policy, individual prisons are required to provide “reasonable religious menu accommodations” to inmates practicing religious dietary laws.
Not happening, says “Jasmaine”. According to his complaint, she has requested and been denied the strict vegan diet that adheres to his spiritual practice. (S)he says prison officials told her if (s)he wanted vegan meals, (s)he needed to become a Rastafarian or a Buddhist.
“The plaintiff, Mr. Jasmaine, shouldn’t have to change his religion to get on the proper diet,” (s)he writes in her suit.
“Jasmaine” says (s)he is entitled to court protection to practice witchcraft, which (s)he says has been “discriminated against and persecuted for hundreds of years without just cause.”
(S)he says the prison has further limited his practice by restricting his services to the eight Wicca holy festivals, or “sabbats,” held each calendar year.
By contrast, “Jasmaine” says, Christian inmates at Lanesboro are allowed to worship six times a week, while Native Americans can conduct their rituals three times weekly. The latter also have prison approval to gather outdoors and use fire during their ceremonies, the lawsuit says.
“Jasmaine” (Duane Fox) says (s)he wants to hold outdoor services twice a week. (S)he has called on the prison to provide the religious items, clothing and food (s)he needs to properly practice witchcraft, including the go-ahead for her to light candles and a fire. His lawsuit does not say whether other Lanesboro inmates share his beliefs.
“Ms. Jasmaine’s religion is not just her religion. It’s her way of life,” his lawsuit says. “This is the path in which she has taken.”
According to prison records, “Jasmaine”, then Fox, was imprisoned in July 2014 to serve a 16-year sentence for sexual offense second degree.
Public records indicate that Fox was held in the Mecklenburg County Jail for three months in 2015 on a federal probation violation and later sentenced to a year in prison. Fox challenged the punishment in the federal case to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, alleging that the trial judge did not give him a chance to speak at the sentencing hearing
In its denial, the appeals court noted that the trial judge “was faced with a cantankerous, foul-mouthed defendant, who was threatening his probation officer at the hearing. In the context of this proceeding, we do not find that Fox’s 12-month sentence was plainly unreasonable.”
During his four years in the prison system, according to prison records, Jasmaine has been accused of 60 infractions, from lock tampering and disobeying orders to sex acts and threatening staff.
Lanesboro, a 1,800-inmate facility, has been roiled by violence, corruption and savage attacks on prisoners and staff.
According to state policy, North Carolina prisons “shall provide access for approved religious services or practices and pastoral care.” Participation is voluntary, and “no inmate shall be subjected to coercion, harassment, or ridicule due to religious affiliation.”
Inmates wanting to practice a religion not recognized by the prison system must fill out a religious assistance request form.
In his complaint, “Jasmaine” (Duane Fox) says (s)he filed the form this month — to no avail.
His complaint asks the courts to order prison officials to provide her with a list of religious necessities, including the Wicca holy text known as “The Book of Shadows,” a wand, Tarot cards, runes, candles, a bell and a black robe, among many other items.
As for his diet, “Jasmaine” says each Wicca festival requires a distinct menu. Beltane on April 30, for example, focuses on dairy, the lawsuit says. “Jasmaine” recommends vanilla ice cream and oatmeal cakes as proper fare.
For the midsummer rites, which fall on the June 21 summer solstice, herbs are dried over a ritual fire, which Wiccans jump over for purification, the lawsuit says. Suggested menu: dried fruits.
“Jasmaine” has called for a jury trial and $1 in damages from each of the chaplains.
What the chaplains should demand in return is an exorcism followed by stringent mental health treatment for the delusional Mr “Jasmine” Fox.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
April 26th, 2018