Case: DOJ Investigation of Virginia Department of Corrections

No Court | No Court

Filed Date: May 18, 2017

Closed Date: Sept. 30, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On or about May 18, 2017, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) began an investigation into the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC). The investigation concerned a set of VDOC's policies on religious practice and thus implicated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Specifically, the DOJ investigation covered VDOC's policies that required a five-person minimum for group worship, barred prisoners from attending religious services if they had missed prior…

On or about May 18, 2017, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) began an investigation into the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC). The investigation concerned a set of VDOC's policies on religious practice and thus implicated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Specifically, the DOJ investigation covered VDOC's policies that required a five-person minimum for group worship, barred prisoners from attending religious services if they had missed prior services, and restricted prisoners from obtaining meals that accommodated religious dietary restrictions.

During the course of the investigation, the VDOC voluntarily modified these policies. Beginning on June 1, 2018, the VDOC changed its meal policy so that prisoners would not be removed from the religious diet for not picking up enough common fare meals per month. The VDOC additionally lowered the minimum number of people required for group worship from five to two, which went into effect on May 1, 2019. One month later on June 1, VDOC eliminated its requirement that prisoners be "active" within a religious group to remain eligible to attend religious services.

On September 30, 2019, the DOJ and VDOC entered into a one-year agreement that additionally required the VDOC to give two-week notice to the DOJ of any changes to their policy modifications. The VDOC also agreed to provide training to its staff, including chaplains, whose work dealt with the modified policies. The DOJ additionally required the VDOC to report information concerning new worship groups that requested permission to hold religious services, the VDOC's response to those requests, and any reasons for granting or denying permission to meet.

The investigation is now resolved.

People


Other Attorney(s)

Active

Active

Active

Active

Other Attorney(s)

Abato, Diane Marie (Virginia)

Fox, Deena (District of Columbia)

Mygatt, Timothy D. (District of Columbia)

Pearson, Victoria (Virginia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Cooperative Agreement Between the United States and the Virginia Department of Corrections

Sept. 30, 2019

Sept. 30, 2019

Settlement Agreement

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Virginia

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 18, 2017

Closing Date: Sept. 30, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Non-court case, DOJ investigation

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Virginia Department of Corrections, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

None of the above

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Content of Injunction:

Reporting

Required disclosure

Training

Issues

General:

Religious programs / policies

Type of Facility:

Government-run