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Inmates enjoy religious privileges

SPECIAL TREATMENT: Inmates have been given Heritage Resource Packs with Bob Marley CDs, drums and shakers.

RASTAFARIANS IN prison are enjoying a range of new religious privileges following revised policies which recognise Rastafari as an approved religion.

Under new rules Rastafarian inmates are given access to a ‘Rastafari Heritage Resource Pack’ with Bob Marley CDs, drums and shakers, and four days ‘holiday’ off work in prison each year to celebrate festivals.

This will enable them, a faith advisor said, to practice their religion in a "fulsome and harmonious way".

However, the prisoners have been barred from smoking cannabis - a common element of their religious practice.

The change in policy came after an unnamed inmate appealed to Nigel Newcomen, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO).

At the time of the change, the PPO said: “Mr A’s complaint was of the most fundamental kind. He complained that he had been told that the Prison Service did not recognise Rastafarianism [sic] as a religion.

“When we investigated, it became clear that the Prison Service was relying on outdated policy that had been superseded by the Equality Act 2010.
“This sets out nine protected characteristics, one of which is “religion or belief”.

Home Office guidance on the Act cited Rastafari as a religion.

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