Deputies investigating inmate’s lawsuit over freedom to practice faith in Charleston Co. jail

VIDEO: Deputies investigating inmate’s lawsuit over freedom to practice faith in Charleston Co. jail

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In a federal lawsuit filed in early April, a Charleston County jail inmate claims he hasn’t been able to freely practice his religion of Judaism inside the Al Cannon Detention Center.

“We do not discuss matters that are pending litigation; however, we are looking into the complaint,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Roger Antonio said Tuesday. “The Sheriff’s Office has a policy in place to ensure that inmates will be afforded the opportunity to practice their religious faith and visit with representatives of their faith.”

Shannon Maurice Smith claims his civil rights have been violated and wrote, “I was badgered about my ancestors ethnicity and place of birth.”Jail records show Smith is being housed at the Al Cannon Detention Center for murder on a courtesy hold for Berkeley County since August 2017.

Smith is requesting more than $13.5 million to pay for his medication, therapy and to start a foundation that help Jewish inmates correspond with Rabbis. He claims in the suit that he has filed previous grievances with jail officials that he could not receive a kosher diet or religious materials but says he was ignored.

In written statements, Smith claims he asked for a kosher diet and was told it would change, but nothing happened. He also says he asked for a Yarmulke, a Jewish calendar and a Torah, but was told they were out of Torahs. He also writes that he was refused a Yarmulke on the grounds that inmates can’t have more than four religious items.

Smith also claims he went on an 11 day hunger strike because he wasn’t getting religious materials and was further disciplined while he was interrogated about whether he was Jewish by a captain and the Chaplain in the jail.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.