On March 28, 2000, an incarcerated member of the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun, a non-profit religious organization, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court Western District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 29 U.S.C. § 2000cc (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized ...
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On March 28, 2000, an incarcerated member of the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun, a non-profit religious organization, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court Western District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 29 U.S.C. § 2000cc (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)) against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The plaintiff, in pro per, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that the MDOC violated his rights under the Due Process Clause, First Amendment, Equal Protection Clause, and under the RLUIPA with the total ban against Melanic literature in Michigan prisons.
The dispute in this case arose when the MDOC classified the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun and its incarcerated members (Melanics) as a security threat group. As a result, Melanic members had to renounce their membership or face a higher security classification. If a prisoner is designated a member of a security threat group, the prisoner is prohibited from possessing documents, materials, symbols, colors or pictures of the group.
In January 2000, incarcerated Melanics were given seven business days to dispose of or turn over all materials evidencing Melanic membership. The MDOC also began to reject mailings of Melanic writings to incarcerated individuals. Plaintiffs allege the Melanic writings that they were ordered to relinquish and are prohibited from possessing are essential to the practice of their religion.
On September 21, 2001, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan (Magistrate Judge Timothy P. Greeley) consolidated two previously filed suits. On April 29, 2002, the District Court (Judge Richard Alan Enslen) granted class certification, limited to injunctive relief. On April 25, 2003, the Court (Judge Enslen) granted class certification, for the purpose of determining liability, to current prisoners of the MDOC who were members of the Melanics on January 7, 2000, and whose religious materials were confiscated after January 7, 2000 or who could not possess Melanic materials after January 7, 2000.
On December 7, 2005, the Court (Judge Enslen) found Plaintiffs were entitled to injunctive relief under the RLUIPA and the Court enjoined Defendant from totally banning Melanic literature from MDOC institutions. On May 15, 2006, the Court (Judge Enslen) granted Plaintiffs requested attorneys' fees in part. Lori Arakaki - 10/09/2014