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8th Circuit sides with Indian inmates in tobacco use lawsuit





The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Indian inmates in a dispute over tobacco use.

Corrections officials in South Dakota banned the use of tobacco in ceremonies. The policy violates the religious rights of Indian inmates, the court ruled.

"We conclude that the record supports the district court’s determination that the defendants have not satisfied their burden of showing that the tobacco ban 'is the least restrictive means of furthering their compelling government interest,'" the decision stated, quoting from the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

"Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s conclusion that the defendants violated RLUIPA by banning inmates’ use of tobacco for religious purposes," the decision continued.

The 8th Circuit noted that 27 percent of inmates in South Dakota are Native American, the largest percentage of any state.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber.

Get the Story:
Tobacco ruling is a victory for Native American inmates (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/26)

8th Circuit Decision:
Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber (April 25, 2014)

Related Stories:
Native Sun News: Indian inmates in South Dakota win lawsuit (02/07)
Indian inmates at odds with state over tobacco at ceremonies (11/29)