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Religious Property & Personal Care
Monday, July 07, 2008


ICE/ERO Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011
5.5 Religious Practices - V. Expected Practices
J. Religious Property and Personal Care
Each facility administrator shall allow the detainees to access personal religious property, consistent with the safety, security and orderly operation of the facility. If necessary, the religious significance of such items shall be verified by the chaplain prior to facility administrator approval. The facility administrator may also direct the chaplain or religious services coordinator to obtain information and advice from representatives of the detainee's faith group or other appropriate sources, about the religious significance of the items. 

Detainee religious property includes, but is not limited to, holy books, rosaries and prayer beads, oils, prayer rugs, prayer rocks, phylacteries, medicine pouches and religious medallions. Such items are part of a detainee’s personal property and are subject to normal considerations of safety, security and orderly operation of the facility.

As is consistent with safety, security and orderly operation of the facility, the facility administrator shall ordinarily allow a detainee to wear or use personal religious items during religious services, ceremonies and meetings in the chapel, and may, upon request of a detainee, allow a detainee to wear certain religious items throughout the facility.

Items of religious wearing apparel include, but are not limited to: 

1. prayer shawls and robes; 

2. kurda or ribbon shirts;

3. medals and pendants;

4. beads; and 

5. various types of headwear.

“Appendix 5.5A: Religious Headwear, Garments, and Other Religious Property” provides examples of acceptable religious headwear, garments and other religious property. There may be circumstances in which it is not advisable to permit the use of these items in a facility. Nothing in these guidelines is intended to prevent facilities from making individualized decisions based on the need to maintain good order and the safety of detainees and staff. Any denial and the reason for it shall be documented and placed in the alien’s detention file.

Religious headwear, notably kufis, yarmulkes, turbans, crowns and headbands, as well as scarves and head wraps for Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Jewish women are permitted in all areas of the facility, subject to the normal considerations of the safety, security and orderly operations of the facility, including inspection by staff. Religious headwear and other religious property shall be handled with respect at all times, including during the in-take process.

Consistent with safety, security, and orderly operation of the facility, the facility shall not cut or shave religiously significant hair.

A detainee who wishes to have religious books, magazines or periodicals must comply with the facility’s general rules for ordering, purchasing, retaining and accumulating personal property. Religious literature is permitted in accordance with the procedures governing the incoming publications. Distribution to detainees of religious literature purchased or donated to ICE/ERO is contingent upon approval from the chaplain or religious services coordinator.