(SFGATE) — LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — If Kentucky’s lone Jewish inmate on death row wants to mark the Sabbath, he’ll have to do it from a cell in a secure unit for now.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that prison officials are not violating the religious freedom rights of 40-year-old William Harry Meece, who is awaiting execution for the slayings of three people in Adair County in 1993, by having him pray in his cell.
Judge Laurence VanMeter, writing for a three-judge panel, concluded that prison policy correctly prevents Meece from being allowed into the Institutional Religious Center at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville because of security concerns. As a death row inmate, Meece lives in the Special Security Unit near the other condemned inmates and apart from the other 800-plus inmates.
Meece sued the Kentucky Department of Corrections in 2007, accusing the agency of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits burdens on the ability of prisoners to worship as they please.