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Transgender Inmate in NC Prison Sues for Right to Practice Witchcraft

This undated photo provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety shows Duane Fox. Fox, a transgender inmate who goes by the name Jennifer Ann Jasmaine, is suing a North Carolina prison, saying it's blocking her from practicing witchcraft. (North Carolina Department of Public Safety via AP)
North Carolina Department of Public Safety via AP

A transgender inmate in a North Carolina prison is suing the correctional facility over his right to practice witchcraft.

Jennifer Ann Jasmaine, 40, who was born as a biological male, filed a lawsuit against the all-male Lanesboro Correctional Institution, where he is serving his sentence for violating his constitutional rights by limiting where, when, and how he may practice the pagan religion, Wicca, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Jasmaine alleged the prison refused to provide Wiccan-friendly foods, while Christian inmates could worship six times a week, and Native Americans could conduct rituals three times a week.

Lanesboro is a maximum security facility located 45 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Under North Carolina state policy, correctional facilities “shall provide access for approved religious services or practices and pastoral care.”

If inmates want to practice a religion not recognized by the prison system, they have to fill out a form requesting “religious assistance,” the policy states.

Jasmaine alleged he filed the request this month but had not heard back from officials. He requested the prison provide religious items used to practice witchcraft—including fire and candles—and asked to hold bi-weekly outdoor services. The suit does not say if other inmates share his beliefs.

“Ms. Jasmaine’s religion is not just her religion. It’s her way of life,” the lawsuit says. “This is the path in which she has taken.”

The lawsuit is asking for a jury trial and $1 in damages from each chaplain involved in the decision-making.

Jasmaine, who used to go by Duane L. Fox, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for second-degree sexual offense.

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Public Safety declined to comment Wednesday on matters of pending litigation.

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