indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Indian man with long hair wins release from prison
Thursday, May 27, 2004

A California Indian man who refused to cut his waist-length hair while in prison was ordered released on Wednesday.

Billy Soza Warsoldier, 55, said state corrections officials punished him for refusing to obey a policy that restricts hair length on males to 3 inches. He was denied contact with family and other privileges, he alleged in a federal lawsuit.

A federal judge last month ruled against Warsoldier's request for release. The decision enabled prison officials to keep him locked up past his May 21 release date for violating the policy.

But in a brief order yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state Department of Corrections to stop enforcing its policy against Warsoldier. Judges William C. Canby and Richard A. Paez also ordered the state to restore Warsoldier's "good time credits."

The effect was that Warsoldier was freed from a state correctional facility, where had finished his 19-month sentence for driving under the influence and possession of weapons, both felonies. Without the reprieve, he might have had to stay in jail until July 7 at the earliest.

"We're very gratified by the court's decision," Warsoldier's lawyer, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, said yesterday "Delaying Mr. Warsoldier's release for even one day as punishment for his adherence to his faith was a gross violation of his rights. We'll continue to fight this unjust policy until no inmate is made to suffer for practicing his religion."

Warsoldier, a member of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, said cutting his hair was an affront to his Cahuilla and Apache heritage. He said he has cut his hair only once in more than 30 years -- on the death of his father in 1980.

"I don't understand why I'm being punished for practicing my faith," he said in late March when his case was filed. "My tradition tells me that if I cut my hair, I may face taunting and ridicule from deceased members of my tribe. I would prefer to take the state's punishment than violate my faith."

The state implemented its hair policy in 1997. Officials say long hair can be used to hide weapons and as a disguise.

Warsoldier said his long hair symbolizes strength and wisdom. A graduate of several art schools, including the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico, he calls himself "not your average savage."

Warsoldier's battle against the prison regulations will continue in the court system. The 9th Circuit has expedited the case and ordered briefs to be submitted in the next two weeks.

Relevant Links:
Bill Soza Warsoldier - http://www.warsoldierartwork.com
ACLU of Southern California - http://www.warsoldierartwork.com

Related Stories:
Indian prisoner in Calif. ordered not to contract press (04/09)
Native prisoner claims punishment for long hair (4/1)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe heads to election season (10/23)
Al Caroll: Recognize tribal sovereignty in new US Constitution (10/23)
Michael Baines: Senate candidate battles Alaska Native rights (10/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation woman named president of Girl Scouts board (10/23)
3rd Circuit won't force town to repatriate Jim Thorpe's remains (10/23)
Navajo Nation's top court orders new ballots without candidate (10/23)
Alaska Federation of Natives ready to open annual convention (10/23)
Alaska governor to sign Native languages bill six months later (10/23)
Rep. Don Young blames government 'largesse' for suicide rate (10/23)
Washington player says tattoo represents Cherokee heritage (10/23)
Crow Tribe seeks renewal of Indian Coal Production Tax Credit (10/23)
Native advocates come together to combat domestic violence (10/23)
Opinion: Tribes exploit loopholes in America's political system (10/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe announces plans for new gaming facility (10/23)
Rival leaders of Chukchansi Tribe to meet amid casino closure (10/23)
Navajo Nation challenges lawsuit over death of casino patron (10/23)
Law Article: Judge restricts BIA authority in Class III dispute (10/23)
Column: Election won't end North Fork off-reservation casino (10/23)
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
SCIA to hold listening session at NCAI on Indian education bill (10/22)
FNDI urges passage for Indian Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act (10/22)
Chumash Tribe praises BIA movement on land-into-trust bid (10/22)
Steven Newcomb: The role of Latin in empire and colonization (10/22)
Christopher Chavis: Navajo court got it wrong in fluency case (10/22)
Navajo Nation presidential hopeful to be removed from ballot (10/22)
Aging BIA school on Navajo Nation awaits replacement funds (10/22)
Review: NMAI treaties exhibit underscores misunderstandings (10/22)
Alaska Native elders and youth share issues at annual meeting (10/22)
Shinnecock Nation allows felons to hold office in certain cases (10/22)
2nd Circuit hears appeal from former chairman of Pequot Tribe (10/22)
Rep. Don Young criticized for comments to high school students (10/22)
Candidates differ on Spokane Tribe's off-reservation casino bid (10/22)
Poarch Creeks to add hotel to casino with $65M expansion plan (10/22)
Salt River Tribe concerned about Tohono O'odham Nation casino (10/22)
North Fork Rancheria blames rival tribes for holding up compact (10/22)
Ballot proposal authorizes more Class III games in South Dakota (10/22)
Blog: Predictions for gaming with Hillary Clinton in White House (10/22)
Native Sun News: Activists take annual swim to Alcatraz Island (10/21)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives ready for conference and election (10/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.