Hijabs Welcome at BRRJA: Muslim Women Allowed to Wear Hijab at BRRJA Facilities

CLCMA is pleased to announce that women who are arrested and booked at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, serving Lynchburg, VA, will no longer be forced to remove their hijabs for mugshots. Through discussions with the county’s attorneys, the arrest policies have been modified so that Muslim women do not need to remove their hijabs for mugshots or their time in jail.

Recently, Ms. Jane Doe* contacted CLCMA. She was arrested in February 2020 and during booking, she was forced to remove her hijab despite her protest that it was a religious head garment. Though she reports that staff appeared understanding, she was forced to remove her scarf anyway and that she was made to be in mixed-gender environments for five days until she was released on bail. To add insult to injury, those photographs were made available online. She has suffered great emotional distress from having her hijab-less pictures online for anyone with internet access and curiosity to see. But we are grateful that at least at Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority in Lynchburg, Virginia no woman will face the same indignities moving forward.

Right to religious headwear must be a fundamental right only limited by narrow exceptions.

We thank Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority for taking heed to this issue quickly after we contacted the administrators, and for collaborating with CLCMA to come to a mutually beneficial resolution. CLCMA advised on new policies following the guidance of other jails and settlements on similar matters. Moving forward, any Muslim woman who is institutionalized at BRRJA will be allowed to wear her hijab in her mugshot and will be allowed to wear it during her time in jail.

*pseudonym used for anonymity