Wyo. prisoner denied use of sweat lodge
RIVERTON, Wyo. — A federal judge has ruled against a Northern Arapaho man’s claim that Wyoming prison officials improperly denied him access to a sweat lodge for religious purposes at the state prison in Torrington.
Andrew John Yellowbear Jr. is serving a life sentence in state prison in the 2004 beating death of his daughter, 22-month-old Marcela Hope Yellowbear.
The Riverton Ranger reports that on June 12, U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson dismissed Yellowbear’s civil rights lawsuit on the sweat lodge issue.
Yellowbear filed the lawsuit last year claiming that prison officials said they could not allow him to participate in sweat lodge ceremonies at the Torrington prison.
The judge noted that the prison officials’ refusal to allow the use of a sweat lodge “may well be a substantial burden on his sincerely held religious beliefs, the same are justified as the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling government interest of safety and order” at the prison.