I should NOT have to cut my hair; it’s who I am

by Carla R. Varner

I am a female inmate at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida. I’m writing you in regards to the obstructions and blatant violations of the law that are being carried out against the inmates of this institution and other Department of Corrections facilities. These primarily include violations of the federal law Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000 along with state and agency laws and rules that govern the department, its staff and its incarcerated persons.

Angela Davis, wearing her famously natural hairstyle, is released from prison after all charges were dropped in June 1972.
Angela Davis, wearing her famously natural hairstyle, is released from prison after all charges were dropped in June 1972.

There is a statewide doctrine that is contrary to law, mandating that each institution targets, profiles and singles out a specific portion of the inmate population under the guise of the grooming standards policy as prescribed by the Florida Administrative Code, Chapter 33 Care of inmates (S. 602.101(4)). However, the FAC has neither been revised nor revamped to allow for the targeting that has occurred statewide. The persons being profiled are exclusively those of African descent.

These so-called grooming violations state that dreadlocks, braids, plaits and other various forms of natural hair styles and types indicative of the community of persons of color are strictly prohibited. The population has been told there is no immunity of any kind from this type of persecution including any protection provided under RLUIPA.

It is in effect that those persons “found” to be in non-compliance of this now “in-house” policy will face confinement and disciplinary actions. Those who further cease to comply will be subjected to the use of force, which includes four-point restraints, and will be brought into compliance.

These so-called grooming violations state that dreadlocks, braids, plaits and other various forms of natural hair styles and types indicative of the community of persons of color are strictly prohibited.

Everything about these actions are illegal; however, the administration will do nothing to correct these actions. Our families who contact DOC headquarters are told that no such authorization has been given to any institution. Yet there is an email that was mailed to all institutions giving the directive to do just that.

The inmates are at a loss here.

I am particularly concerned because my hair is dreaded and has been since March of 2009. I feel like I should NOT have to cut my hair because it’s mine, and it’s who I am.

Why should we be victims of circumstance for being born Black!

I feel like I should NOT have to cut my hair because it’s mine, and it’s who I am.

Send our sister some love and light: Carla Renee Varner, 150010, LCI, 11120 NW Gainesville Rd. Annex, Ocala, FL 34482.