Inquiry prompts Virginia prisons to change religious rules

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia prisons are relaxing some of their restrictions on group worship activities and providing religiously compliant meals to inmates following a federal investigation.

The Department of Justice announced a settlement Monday with Virginia over an inquiry into whether the Department of Corrections was violating a federal law protecting the religious rights of inmates and other institutionalized persons.

Under the agreement, the Department of Corrections is ending a requirement that group-worship activities accommodate a minimum of five inmates. It also eliminates some rules making it harder for inmates to receive meals that accommodate religious needs.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this year, a coalition of Muslim groups complained to prison officials about a lack of food and water for inmates observing Ramadan.

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