February 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, jailers threatened a Muslim woman with solitary confinement if she did not attend Christian services while incarcerated, according to a new lawsuit.

Sakeena Majeed, 24, also alleges that other inmates were forced to attend the services, regardless of their religious affiliation, and that officials mocked inmates who did not wish to participate.

“The government can’t tell people which god to pray to, or whether to pray at all,” Majeed’s attorney, Matthew Besser, told Cleveland.com.

The suit names a correctional officer, Regina Watts, as the source of the coercion. “Upon Majeed’s arrival at the trustee pod, Watts instructed Majeed that she would be required to attend weekly Christian prayer services every Friday afternoon,” it stated. “When Majeed refused to actively participate in the services, another Corrections Officer, Beckham, openly chastised and mocked her.”

Jail officials responded by claiming that the county respects the religious beliefs of all inmates but did not address the details of the suit. “We accommodate every faith up there, and no one is forced to go to any service,” a jail spokesman said. (Majeed v. Cuyahoga County)