Vermont Department of Corrections

In August 2007, the Vermont Department of Corrections proposed a measure that would impose lengthy new regulations on religious practices. Becket stood up against the proposed Directive 380.01, warning Vermont that the proposed regulations might violate the constitutional rights of inmates under federal statutes and the First Amendment.

Among other things, the proposed Directive required mandatory registration of an inmate’s religious identity, an imposed one-year waiting period before changing religious affiliation, and prohibition of attendance to interfaith religious services without first applying for a permit. It also denied inmates the right to lead religious services—even if they are ordained clergy—and prohibit inmates from “demonstrative prayer” and prayer with others.

Not long after receiving Becket’s letter, the head of the Vermont Department of Corrections called Becket’s attorneys and told them he would change the proposed rules to accommodate religious exercise: A win for religious freedom in the Green Mountain State.