Rashid Qawi Al-Amin succeeded where thousands of Virginia prison inmates before him have failed: He prevailed in a lawsuit against the government.
In 1989, Al-Amin, then known as Donald Tracey Jones, was convicted in Norfolk Circuit Court of murder and use of a firearm, and sentenced to 52 years in prison. Police said the shooting was drug-related. Jones, a New York native, was in his early 20s at the time.
Al-Amin won a settlement with the state that forces the prison system to supply him, and the Greensville Correctional Center library, with Muslim reading materials, CDs and DVDs. He’ll also receive $2,000.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office decided to settle the seven-year legal battle after a series of court rulings in Al-Amin’s favor. The state admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement but did agree to perform eight different acts to satisfy Al-Amin’s claims.
Thousands of state and federal prisoners file lawsuits each year, and most are thrown out as frivolous.
Al-Amin filed this religious rights suit in 2004. U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson in Norfolk dismissed it in 2005 on procedural grounds, but the federal appeals court reinstated it. That process alone took three years.
In 2008, Jackson threw the case out again, citing a lack of merit, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent it back to Jackson to hear arguments. The judge offered to appoint a lawyer for Al-Amin, but Al-Amin refused counsel.
Over the next two years, motions were filed back and forth, and another appeal ensued on a minor issue over who exactly should be sued. Late last year, Jackson finally set the case for trial. It was supposed to have begun May 10, but Jackson ordered both sides to try to settle the matter.
The day before trial, he dismissed the suit after receiving the settlement notice.
The settlement calls for the Department of Corrections to spend up to $2,500 on Islamic library materials for the Greensville Correctional Center, where Al-Amin is housed. The department will also hire a Muslim inmate to work in the library. And inmates at Greensville will be allowed to donate religious materials to the library, subject to security review.
Al-Amin was even allowed to submit his own list of Islamic reading materials, movies and CDs.
The department also agreed to allow Al-Amin to use his religious name and to allow inmates to assist in the preparation of religious meals. Finally, the department agreed to pay Al-Amin $2,000 to cover the costs he expended fighting the suit, mostly for filing fees and postage.
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Just so I’m sure I understand it…. Become involved in an illegal trade. Kill someone because of it, go to jail for you actions. Sue the state for your religious beliefs and the Taxpaying citizens have to foot the bill for that too??????? Where is John Stossel when you need him ….. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!
Maybe the family of the slain individual should sue for the $2,000.00 he was awarded!!!! JUST SAYING……………