University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name DOJ Investigation of Virginia Department of Corrections PC-VA-0028
Docket / Court No Court ( No Court )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
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 ( ... read more >
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.

Matthew Feng - 07/21/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Reporting
Required disclosure
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) Virginia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Non-court case, DOJ investigation
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 05/18/2017
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
not recorded
09/30/2019
Cooperative Agreement Between the United States and the Virginia Department of Corrections
PC-VA-0028-0001.pdf | Detail
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Other Lawyers Abato, Diane Marie (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0028-0001
Fox, Deena (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0028-0001
Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0028-0001
Pearson, Victoria (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0028-0001

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