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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Agreement with Connecticut Department of Correction to Protect Religious Rights in Prison

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Connecticut Department of Correction (CDOC) that expands opportunities for group religious practice throughout the state prison system. The agreement resolves the department’s investigation of CDOC, pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Under the agreement, CDOC has adopted a new policy that expands access to group worship or other collective religious activities. Under the prior policy, only a chaplain or approved outside volunteer of the same faith as the members of a religious group could supervise the group’s religious practice. The revised policy will permit other staff and chaplains of other faiths to supervise group religious practice and will allow incarcerated persons to facilitate some group religious activities.

“Religious liberty is a foundational principle of the United States, and the religious rights of incarcerated persons are guaranteed by both the Constitution and federal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement will protect the religious practices of people held in correctional facilities across Connecticut by expanding the available options for supervising group religious activities. The Justice Department remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting the religious rights of all persons, including those who are incarcerated.”

“Federal law guarantees all Americans the right to freely exercise one’s religion, which includes the right of institutionalized persons to practice their faith and worship together,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery for the District of Connecticut. “We are committed to protecting this fundamental right and are grateful for the Connecticut Department of Correction’s ongoing collaboration to ensure better protection for collective religious services.”

In addition to expanding who can supervise group religious practice, the agreement requires CDOC to implement a new “inmate conductor” program, which will allow incarcerated persons to take an active role in facilitating collective religious activities. CDOC will also collect and review data on a regular basis to ensure that the new policy has the intended effect of increasing access to group worship or collective religious activities. The settlement requires appropriate notification and training of CDOC staff and leadership to implement the revised policy. The department will have access to documents and correctional facilities to assess compliance with the agreement.

For additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the Special Litigation Section, please visit The Justice Department issued a report on the 20th Anniversary of RLUIPA in 2020 and a statement and on the Institutionalized Persons Provisions of RLUIPA in 2017. Those interested in finding out more about RLUIPA can visit

Updated March 15, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-297