Inmate's Lawsuit Reinstated by Judge
St. Louis, MO – A federal appeals panel has restored a Missouri inmate's lawsuit demanding religious use of an American Indian sweat lodge. The panel suggested that the imprisoned killer perhaps deserved more time to make his case.
The ruling from the three-judge 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came Friday; it says a federal district judge erred in dismissing the lawsuit by Lance Pounders. Pounders is serving a life sentence for murder at the Northeast Correctional Center in the northeast Missouri town of Bowling Green.
Sweat lodges are used in some American Indian religious ceremonies to purify the spirit. Participants sit within an enclosed structure and pray while water is poured over fire-heated rocks during a ritual that can involve a shovel and garden rake.
Inmates in states that have barred the practice often have sued over claims of religious infringement.