American Indian inmates fight Ala. long hair ban

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - American Indian inmates in Alabama prisons are awaiting the latest ruling in their 15-year legal battle against the system's ban on long hair, which they say infringes on their tribal religious customs.

The inmates say their practices have been stifled by the department's policy of requiring all male inmates to keep their hair short.

Testimony on the grooming policy ended Friday and a ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody is expected soon.

Alabama is one of 12 states that prohibit inmates from wearing long hair while incarcerated.

Corrections officials say long hair poses a threat to prison security, safety, health, hygiene and public safety.

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