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The state ombudsman is warning Iowa county jails against violating their inmates’ religious wishes for inappropriate reasons.

The warning came after a prison employee denied an inmate access to tarot cards used in the Catholic faith, Ombudsman Bernando Granwehr said in a press release.

Granwehr said prisoners are entitled to religious protections under the First Amendment without government intervention, and a religious request should only be denied if there is a “compelling government interest,” such as a security risk.

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“Courts have long been reluctant to define religion, and prison officials should be equally “I am cautious,” Granwehr said in the press release. “The primary concern of a prison should be to assess the seriousness of an inmate’s beliefs and weigh them against the prison’s legitimate security concerns.”

Regarding the tarot card case, prison officials found no legitimate security threat, according to the press release. The inmate’s request was denied because officials questioned the legitimacy of the inmate’s beliefs.

Marshall County Sheriff Joel Phillips acknowledged the ombudsman’s findings and agreed to better protect inmates’ religious rights, according to the ombudsman’s office.

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