Kuperman v. Wrenn, No. 10-2083 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Alleging violations of the First Amendment, Equal Protection (42 U.S.C. 1983), and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000cc, an Orthodox Jewish former inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison, challenged a rule requiring inmates to be clean-shaven, unless they obtain a waiver based on medical condition or religious beliefs. With a waiver, an inmate may maintain a 1/4-inch neatly-trimmed beard. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the prison. The First Circuit affirmed. Although the plaintiff has been released, the claims are not moot. The rule is related to the prison's substantial interests in hygiene, easy identification of prisoners, and preventing concealment of weapons and contraband and those goals cannot be readily achieved by other means. The rule meets the RLUIPA "least restrictive means" test. The prison provides alternative means of expressing religious beliefs. While inmates in some high-security units go one-two weeks without shaving, the different treatment is justified.