Va. Inmate’s Win in Suit Against Government a Rarity

Tim McGlone, Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads, Virginia), May 15, 2011

Rashid Qawi Al-Amin {snip} won a settlement with the state that forces the prison system to supply him, and the Greensville Correctional Center library, with Muslim reading materials, CDs and DVDs. He’ll also receive $2,000.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office decided to settle the seven-year legal battle after a series of court rulings in Al-Amin’s favor. {snip}

The case highlights a trend among state and federal prisoners, many of them converted Muslims, fighting for their rights to practice their faith.

In 1989, Al-Amin, then known as Donald Tracey Jones, was convicted in Norfolk Circuit Court of murder and use of a firearm, and sentenced to 52 years in prison. Police said the shooting was drug-related. Jones, a New York native, was in his early 20s at the time. He’s scheduled to be released in 2016.

Not long after entering prison, he changed his name to Rashid Qawi Al-Amin, which in Arabic means “wise, strong and trustworthy.” He says the prison system refused to acknowledge his new name.

Al-Amin became part of a swell of converts to Islam within America’s prisons. Some joined the Nation of Islam while others chose the Sunni or Shia sects. Al-Amin became a Sunni. Corrections officials sometimes refer to the religion as Prislam.

{snip}

Al-Amin filed this religious rights suit in 2004. U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson in Norfolk dismissed it in 2005 on procedural grounds, but the federal appeals court reinstated it. That process alone took three years.

{snip}

Over the next two years, motions were filed back and forth, and another appeal ensued on a minor issue over who exactly should be sued. Late last year, Jackson finally set the case for trial. It was supposed to have begun May 10, but Jackson ordered both sides to try to settle the matter.

{snip}

The settlement calls for the Department of Corrections to spend up to $2,500 on Islamic library materials for the Greensville Correctional Center, where Al-Amin is housed. The department will also hire a Muslim inmate to work in the library. And inmates at Greensville will be allowed to donate religious materials to the library, subject to security review.

Al-Amin was even allowed to submit his own list of Islamic reading materials, movies and CDs.

The department also agreed to allow Al-Amin to use his religious name and to allow inmates to assist in the preparation of religious meals. Finally, the department agreed to pay Al-Amin $2,000 to cover the costs he expended fighting the suit, mostly for filing fees and postage.

{snip}

jones

Donald Tracey Jones, aka Rashid Qawi Al-Amin.

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  • Eric

    Islam is a jailhouse religion. Irony of the highest order that the convicted murderer sees himself as “wise, strong and trustworthy.” Who says that blacks have a lack of self esteem?

  • Question Diversity

    Why is this called a “rarity?” Seems to me that black Muslim prison inmate gets what he wants almost all the time. In a sane society with a sane incarceration system, with the history that these sorts of inmates have both in the joint and after release, they shouldn’t have 1% of the privileges they are receiving.

    I’m a bit disappointed that Cuccinelli caved in. He’s supposed to be one of the best AGs in the country.

  • CO

    After working in the prison system for over 17 years: #1 these jailhouse muslim’s are nothing but a gang that is sanction by the prison system. #2 it is for protection. #3 if they would have committed their crime in the middle east most would be dead!

  • Lakeviw Senior

    If this guy was sentenced in 1989 for a term of 52 years that should mean he shouldn’t be released until 2041. So, he murdered someone and soon he’ll be free as a bird. Funny too how they all get religion while they are in prison. Are these judges really serious? Now the the overworked tax payer will have to pick up the tab so this guy can practice this religion of peace as Gorge Bush put it a long time ago.

  • Fr. John

    Since when does a prisoner get Taxpayer funds, for ‘estabishing a religion’? – even if it makes him a more gentle, loving person…. oh wait, Islam.

    Never mind……

  • Jack D.R.

    This just shows what type of a system we (European Americans/Europeans) have been given. Also, as America continues its downward swirl within the abyss of multiculturalism, look to read and be made aware of more and more of these type situations.

  • SKIP

    “Seems to me that black Muslim prison inmate gets what he wants almost all the time”

    Only true in the U.S.as I can GUARANTEE muslim inmates in a muslim prison in a muslim country are ON THEIR OWN…they get nothing unless their family brings it to them. Muslim prisons also do not have people on death row for 10, 20 or more years!! you get a year or less or you get hanged! Quite a lot of crimes draw the death penalty in muslim countries and when you get that, 10 days or so later you are buried! Not a bad idea really.

  • Sid Sarcastic

    In addition to the religious books and cd’s the state will also be providing the inmate with:

    1. New carpet for his cell ($1440.00)

    2. 50 Sony Flatscreen Color TV ($5400.00)

    3. New I Phone White 4 ($860.00)

    5 New handcrafted leather chair/recliner ($6350.00)

    6. Custom made Gucci shoes and prisonwear ($4250.00)

    7. Use of Trumps interior decorator to redo cell ($22,500.00)

    8. $4400.00 per month allowance for incidental prison expenses.

    9. Private Chef from Spago’s in Hollywood to prepare his special

    dinners and to meet his religious eating requirements.

    ($2400.00 per week) Cost of foods Not included.

    As wacky as this list is, is it really that far off?

  • ProudtobeWhite

    Say What???! Cons should spend their days turning big rocks into little rocks, not promulgating their violent and intolerant religion at taxpayer expense. Prison should be a deterrent, not an alternative lifestyle. This is outrageous!

  • Anonymous

    The ‘problem’ with crime is recidivism. At present time, a person who is a pathological criminal cannot prove it, to the state, unless he is allowed out to continue to do what he does, naturally.

    Why is it important to look at things this way?

    1. It takes 30-40,000 dollars, per year, to incarcerate an inmate. 40,000 X 52 in this case = 2.08 million dollars. Which would you rather do: pay the victim an insurance policy from the state for the loss. Or house and feed, _for free_, a murderer?

    2. They just become better criminals. Take this example. The man is dedicated. He is trained in the legal martial arts. He has a huge organization behind him to encourage and support him and he must be given his due process rather than have to pay for every thing on his own. Perhaps most importantly, he has _free time_ to assist his progress in aiding what is likely going to become one of the largest insurrectionist gang groups in America, when things melt down. All of a color…

    3. We are not sheep. We -should- know how to organize (it saves money for one thing) so that we can move around (shop, movies, restaurants) in groups with concealed carry permits. And if we can protect ourselves, then letting criminals back out on the streets means you can enforce a three strikes and you’re _dead_ law.

    People change, roughly every 5-7 years, as they mature and their brains gain or lose function while (in males) their testes become less effective so that they ‘mellow out’ with age.

    Punishing someone with a maximum sentence of more than that time, for all but the most heinous (serial killers/rapists, child molestors, drug dealers etc.) is a bad idea.

    Because we end up PAYING for them to become even more useless to society. Give them 2-3 for a ‘Class 1’ felony, 3-5 for a ‘Class 2’ and 6-7 for a ‘Class 3’ and then pay the victim the difference on what would have been a nickel/dime/quarter.

    We won’t kill you for one crime. But we won’t pay you to be a life long criminal. Show us, three times, that you don’t want or deserve to be alive, and we’ll accomodate you.

    It’s as simple as that.

    Latin: Recidīvus re = “back” + cadō = “I fall”

    Sometimes, you have to let them fall and -not- offer a hand to get back up. It’s in your best interest to do so.

  • sedonaman

    Black prisoners become converts to Islam because it is not white European man’s religion, and it’s one of the few ways they can “get back” at the system. The irony is that the majority of black slaves down through history have been made slaves by Arab Muslims.