The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments as to whether Arkansas inmate Gregory Holt, who's also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad, has the right to grow a beard in keeping with his religious beliefs.
Holt petitioned the Supreme Court to allow him to grow an inch-long beard in accordance with his religious obligations, even though Arkansas correctional rules do not allow for such grooming.
For his appeal to the Supreme Court, Holt is being represented by multiple groups, including the Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. more >>
Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud was sentenced this week to 30 years in prison for the attempted bombing of a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Oregon.
Mohamud, 19, reportedly reached out to an Islamic terrorist organization in Pakistan in order to do something for "his people." However, the teen actually spoke with an undercover FBI agent posing as an Al-Qaida operative in 2010, who earned his trust and told him there were five ways he could help the organization. Mohamud chose to become "operational," meaning that he would do something to actively promote Al-Qaida.
He specifically came up with the idea to bomb the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, even going so far as to provide maps of the area to the undercover FBI agents and taking part in a practice run. He seemed gleeful about the possibility of doing real damage to ordinary citizens, telling the agents that "that's, what I want for these people," according to government paperwork. more >>
A member of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect in Idaho was sentenced to 90 days in jail after admitting to abusing young boys in his home.
Nathan C. Jessop, 49, was given the sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of misdemeanor injury to a child. His sentence, which included 360 additional days of prison time, was suspended. Jessop reportedly was in charge of a home in Idaho where Mormon parents would send their children on "repentance missions." He admitted to physically disciplining nine boys and locking at least one of them in a furnace room for two days.
"What we are talking about is just an individual and what our basic assumptions are about how we treat kids and how we protect their health and safety, and I think that's really what the case was all about," Prosecutor Stephen Herzog told azcentral. more >>
The State of Oklahoma has announced reforms to its procedure for executing prisoners.
The reforms come in the wake of an investigation into the death of prisoner Clayton Lockett, who took 43 minutes to pass away after his initial injection of midazolam. The drug was not injected in a proper manner, allowing Lockett to move around and moan before he was finally declared dead. Now, with new reforms, the state is looking to "recover" from the incident and continue with its procedures.
Midazolam will still be used as the drug for the procedure, but the dose will increase to five times what was normally given to inmates. There will also be more training requirements for prison staff and members of execution teams, as well as plans put in place should an execution go awry. Part of the problem with the Lockett execution was that there was no equipment to try and prolong his life should that have been the order given by Governor Mary Fallin or the prison warden. more >>
Vandals who've repeatedly smashed pumpkins against the exterior wall of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, are cutting into the profits the church will donate to local charities from its annual sales.
Angela Viney, the senior warden at the church, told Fox Carolina that the pumpkin patch, which is comprised of 2,900 pumpkins, is a 20 year tradition, and is viewed by hundreds of people in the community every year.
"It's sad that someone would jeopardize what we're trying to do here," Viney said. "So now police are keeping an eye on the pumpkin patch and reviewing surveillance video from church cameras and a nearby bank. So stop and consider what you're doing, not only to a church but also to your community." more >>
Conservative author, filmmaker and outspoken critic of the Obama administration Dinesh D'Souza says outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder might end up as the boss of a "criminal syndicate" after he leaves office this year.
Holder announced his resignation last Thursday at a press conference with President Barack Obama. He is expected to leave office "as soon as his successor is confirmed."
D'Souza speculated about Holder's future in an interview with Breitbart News Radio during which he argued that his recent prosecution by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, for breaking campaign finance laws by illegally donating over federal limits and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission was political targeting. more >>