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Federal appeals court weighing religious freedom claims by Kentucky death row inmates

Reported by: Associated Press
Reported: Friday, May 9, 2014 1:47 PM EDT

A federal appeals court is weighing just how much religious freedom Kentucky's death row inmates can have as they await execution.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday heard arguments brought by five death row inmates who challenged restrictions imposed by the state's Department of Corrections that barred the erection of a Native American sweat lodge.

Attorney Jacob Roth told a three-judge panel the inmates sought to work with the prison to accommodate their religious needs as well as the prison's concerns.

The attorney for the Corrections Department, Stafford Easterling, said no other state allows death row inmates to have a sweat lodge.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell ruled in March 2013 that the prison took the steps for the security of inmates and others.


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