Inmate placed in solitary because he won’t cut his hair

Dear Editor,

My name is Richard Dickson #589943 and I’m currently housed at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, LA. I’m from Monroe, LA., and I’ve been incarcerated since 2009, but been at David Wade since December 2012. I’m currently on Ext. lockdown for refusing to cut my hair, 24 hours a day for the past year.

I’m a faithful Rastafarian and it’s not in my religious belief to cut my hair. I tried to talk to the Chaplain Johnny Atkins, but he refused to talk to me. I tried to talk to Warden Jerry Goodwin, Warden Kayla Shermen, and Warden Angie Huff for relief to come off these 24-hours in a cell all day.

I’m being told my religion is a cult. I’m being told my hair is a threat to security at David Wade. I’m being told my hair isn’t natural, because I twisted my hair into dreadlocks by White folks who know nothing about a Black man’s hair or culture.

The Fifth Circuit of Appeals court protects my Constitutional Rights to grow my hair and practice my religious belief. The RLUIPA Act guarantees that protection to practice my religious belief without prejudice or discrimination. I wrote Secretary James LeBlanc several letters, but he hasn’t intervened.

My Constitutional Rights are being violated here. How can I get some help from this current situation? Who punishes these people for breaking the rules they create? I feel I’m being punished for my religion. See Christopher Ware v. Louisiana Dept. of Corrections, 866 F.3d 263 (5th Cir. 2017) guarantees me the right to practice my religious belief without discrimination or prejudice.

I’ve been on lockdown since March 17, 2018 in a cell by myself. These people won’t let me out this cell because of my hair. What about rehabilitating me? Preparing me for society when my time is up? That goes to show that racism is very alive in the prison system. Racism is very real at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, LA.

Mr. Richard Dickson