Mobile Imam sues AL Department of Corrections, claiming religious discrimination

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A local religious leader from Mobile is suing the Alabama Department of Corrections, claiming the DOC discriminates against non-Christians ministering to death row inmates. The plaintiffs say the current policy hurts people of all faiths.

Mobile Imam Yusuf Maisonet has been ministering to Muslims at Holman prison for more than six years. It’s something we talked to him about in early 2020.

A new complaint filed on his behalf by the Council on American-Islamic Relations or (CAIR) says before convicted murderer Dominque Ray was executed in 2019, Maisonet was not allowed to administer last rites or be with Ray in the execution chamber even though Ray was Muslim and requested the Imam. The suit says the DOC allegedly allowed the prison’s Christian chaplain to be there instead.

The complaint also says shortly before the execution of convicted cop killer Nathanial Woods the department of corrections changed its policy and now no longer permits any clergy in the execution chamber before an inmate is put to death.

The complaint says that was done to explicitly keep non-Christians out of the execution chamber. The complaint says the policy restricts the religious freedom for all inmates on death row with no spiritual advisor present to offer prayers or last rites.

The federal civil complaint was filed last Thursday. We’ve reached out to the Alabama Department of Corrections for a comment. A spokesperson responded via email writing, “Out of respect for the legal process, which is ongoing, we cannot provide comment at this time.”

You can read the complaint here.

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