Orthodox Inmate Loses Challenge Over Facial Hair

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beardWMUR reports: A federal judge has ruled that inmates have no First Amendment rights to grow a beard, rejecting the claim of an Orthodox Jew who claimed prison policy banning facial hair longer than a quarter-inch violated his constitutional rights.U.S. District Court Chief Judge Steven McAuliffe ruled against Albert Kuperman, saying prison officials’ concerns about hygiene and security trump inmates’ free expression and religious rights.

McAuliffe acknowledged that Kuperman’s religion “requires men to refrain from trimming their beards.” But, he ruled, prison officials have valid reasons for requiring that beards be kept to a maximum length of a quarter-inch.

“That length allows correctional officers to identify inmates easily, prevents inmates from hiding contraband and weapons in beards and minimizes the risk that an escaped inmate could quickly change his appearance after an escape,” McAuliffe wrote in his Aug. 27 ruling.

“A grooming policy that allowed full beards, on the other hand, would strain prison resources and/or relations between inmates and staff by requiring the issuance of multiple identification cards and by requiring more frequent inmate searches,” the judge said.

Kuperman also argued the prison policy violated his equal protection rights because inmates in high-security housing often have beards exceeding the quarter-inch length. The court dismissed this claim, noting that the high-security inmates are not allowed to have razors and are shaved by prison barbers every week or two, as prison resources permit.

Kuperman, 25, lost a court challenge last year over kosher diets. He claimed his constitutional rights were violated when he was removed from a kosher diet plan after twice being caught eating non-kosher foods. Corrections spokesman Jeff Lyons said prison policy has since been changed to permit an inmate three lapses before being threatened with removal from diets related to religion.

Kuperman is serving 3½ to 7 years behind bars. He is eligible for parole in January.

{WMUR New Hampshire/Matzav.com}


  1. The Chofetz Chaim and Chazon Ish probably also said not to do what this inmate must have done to land in jail. They also certainly said not to eat treif, as he was caught doing those two times.

  2. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky said that he never found anywhere in the Shulchan Aruch that you have to be frum. But the Shulchan Aruch demands that a Yid be ehrlich. If the Yid in the article had been more ehrlich and less frum, we would find him in the lowest of the low places in the goldene medine. Not to talk about hilul Hashem and discrediting the Charedi community. Rabbi Wein was saying that when he was the head of OU got angry letters from “frum” inmates criticizing OU kashrus standards. Those fellows never asked themselves why they were writing from jail that they were sharing with the dregs of the world. If they had standards in ehrlichkeit, they could choose the kashrus standards of their heart.

  3. The Chofetz Chaim and Chazon Ish also said not to speak lashon hora against another yid, and to give dan l’chaf z’chus. (Don’t believe everything you read)

  4. I wonder if it isnt a MITZVAH to shave one’s beard in jail in order to make oneself less obvious and minimize the Chilul HaSm. Make no mistake about it Goyim know that
    our people are suposed to be better
    and when they see us in jail they know it is bad.

  5. The Prison Authority is not asking him to shave off his beard. They are asking him to trim it short. That will still satisfy the Chafetz Chayim and Chazon Ish. They also say that one has to follow Dina D’Malchusa. I don’t remember a distinction made between Dina D’Malchusa before entering prison and afterwards.

  6. TO nr.2:

    A week before Rosh Hashanah it would be nice to at least try to have some Ahavas Yisroel.

    Al pi Torah obviously sinning one sin does not mean that therefore he might as well drop Torah and Mitzvos all together.

  7. There are unfortunately too many frum yidden who are imprisoned unjustifiedly. Just because they are there doesn’t make less frum. There are people who took the hit instead of maasering on others. There are people that got raw deals etc. Were not talking about the outright fraudsters, there are people that make innocent mistakes or get caught up in actions that were not intentioned. So please don’t go generalizing against everyone that is incarcerated.


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