The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on the latest controversy surrounding Sam Mullet and imprisoned members of his community:

The federal Bureau of Prisons is forcing some imprisoned members of an Ohio Amish community to study for high school equivalency certificates in violation of their First Amendment rights, a lawyer for the sect contends.

Lawyer Edward Bryan, who represents imprisoned Amish bishop Samuel Mullet, said Friday he intends to write a letter of protest to prison officials cite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found Amish children could not be forced to attend school past 8th grade.

“It’s a legitimate purpose and an honorable thing to rehabilitate prisoners by requiring them to obtain their GEDs,” Bryan told The Plain Dealer. “But you have to make exceptions, especially for religious reasons.”

This is another complication in the Mullet saga, one which raises the question of how far religious exemptions extend behind prison walls.

Does Wisconsin v. Yoder apply to federally-convicted adults faced with fulfilling a requirement of their incarceration?  This also leaves aside the matter of whether the group should be considered “Amish”.

The Plain Dealer is running an editorial in support of Mullet’s position, entitled “Forcing classes on Amish inmates is unconstitutional and just plain unnecessary“. The editorial refers to Yoder in arguing that a GED degree for Mullet and others is unnecessary and may even be harmful to them when they are released.

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