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Smoking pot is part of his religion, inmate says in lawsuit against SC prisons

James Rose sued the South Carolina Department of Corrections for shaving his dreadlocks and refusing to give him marijuana.
James Rose sued the South Carolina Department of Corrections for shaving his dreadlocks and refusing to give him marijuana. SCDOC

A man serving a life sentence for murder has sued the South Carolina Department of Corrections because he is not allowed to smoke pot in prison, which he says violates his religious freedoms as a Rastafarian.

James Rose, 41, was convicted of murder in 2013. He was involved in the execution-style murder of the son of a town council member in Lincolnville, South Carolina, according to the Post and Courier newspaper.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Charleston, Rose says the Department of Corrections violates his constitutional rights be refusing to give him marijuana “as part of the Rastafarian religious practice.” Additionally, he argues, he should be allowed to grow his hair to “unlimited length” as part of his religion.

A mugshot in the state Department of Corrections database shows Rose with a shaved head.

In the lawsuit, Rose writes, “I grew dreadlocks as a part of my Rastafarian religion and asked to be accommodated with marijuana as part of my religion and practice.” He said prison officials held him down and shaved his head after he asked for pot on April 17, 2017.

The prison guards, he writes, “used excessive force to maliciously and sadistically cause harm” when he was at the Lieber Correctional Institution.

A jury found that Rose directed two men to kill a man in front of one of his children, WCSC reported at the time, but did not actually pull the trigger. Media reports do not indicate whether police ever caught the other two men. Jurors sentenced Rose to life in prison, the television reports.

Rose is locked up at the maximum security McCormick Correctional Institution, according to court and prison records.

SC Attorney General Alan Wilson describes the intricate plans prisoners used to get contraband into South Carolina prisons.

Inmates continue their life of crime from inside prison with smuggled cell phones

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
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