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Legal aspect

The main information regarding legal status and religious practice in prisons are presented in a recent note by the prison authorities: Paper NOR/JUSK1440001N of 16 July 2014 on religious practice in custody (see Legirel).
Spiritual support constitutes an exception to the principle of not using public funds to finance religious practice set out in Article 2(1) of the law of 9 December 1905, which stipulates that: “expenditure that relates to chaplaincy services and is intended to ensure the free practice of religions in public institutions such as secondary schools, primary schools, homes, asylums and prisons may, however, be included in said budgets”.

Although chaplaincy status does not exist as such, a procedure is in place for approving chaplains. These full or part-time workers “provide prisoners with spiritual support, perform religious services, organise religious meetings and organise religious celebrations (in consultation with the authorities)”.

Prisoners are not obliged to declare their faith. Although it is compulsory to provide information on the activities offered and the presence of chaplains, it is up to prisoners themselves to request that they practise their religion.

Religious practice is regulated (meals, prayer, visiting entitlements, etc.).

Furthermore, the administrative court of appeal in Lyon overturned the judgement of the administrative court in Grenoble of 7 November 2013 that ordered Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison (in the French département of Isère) to offer halal meals to Muslim prisoners, on 22 July 2014.

D 31 August 2015    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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