POLKTON, N.C. –A Wiccan inmate has sued for to a long list of religious accommodations including both a vegan diet and ice cream as a ritual food for one sabbat. Jennifer Ann Jasmaine is also seeking more time to practice her religion, including time outside with a fire. According to one prison minister, that’s not going to cut it in any facility. The fact that Jasmaine is a transgender woman figures prominently in the original story, although her gender identity is not mentioned in her initial filing in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Rather, she focuses on remedies which would enhance her religious practice.
For the last eight years, members of Ár nDraíocht Féin : A Druid Fellowship have worked with prisoners in the Pacific Northwest. They have working groups of male prisoners in Coyote Ridge and Stafford Creek correction centers in the state of Washington. When someone from the Coyote Ridge ADF group was transferred to Stafford Creek, he began to organize the second group indicating organic growth of the program. There is also an ADF group in one female prison in Oregon. The number at the three prisons is small, less than 50 prisoners in all.
Almost a year ago, I organized and led a panel at Paganicon called “Pagan Clergy: How to Welcome Sex Offenders and Ex-Felons into Our Communities.” The overall convention theme was Through the Looking Glass: a Journey to the Underworld, so shedding light on marginalized communities within the larger Pagan community seemed appropriate. We do not always see what is beneath in the underworld until we begin looking. As a religious group leader and prison minister, I wanted to see how the larger community would respond to the most frequent question posed by the incarcerated: where can I go to ritual, or where can I find a group once I get out? The panel was a rudimentary attempt to bring together in an unofficial capacity representatives from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), clergy who serve in prison ministry, and the larger community at Paganicon for a long-overdue discussion on what the reception of formerly incarcerated would be in our community.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pagan clergy, prison ministers, and members of the Minnesota Sex Offenders Program (MSOP) took part in a panel discussion at a Midwest Pagan conference on Sunday. The panel was created to assist MSOP members in understanding Pagan communities’ concerns and suggestions about reintegrating ex-sex offenders after they have served their prison terms and completed a lengthy rehabilitation process. The discussion also touched on other persons released from incarceration for felony offenses. The panel was moderated by Clio Ajana at Paganicon, the yearly Pagan conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.