Inmate Claims Religious Freedoms Were Violated After Being Denied Marijuana, Hair in Dreadlocks

A South Carolina inmate sued the state prisons department with claims that the agency violated his religious freedoms by not allowing him to smoke marijuana or keep dreadlocks.

In a federal lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Corrections, James Rose argued that the agency violated his constitutional rights when it refused to give him marijuana “as part of the Rastafarian religious practice.”

The 41-year-old has been serving a life sentence after his 2013 murder conviction, the Associated Press reported. Rose was a part of the execution-style murder of Leland Shannon Jr., the son of a town council member in Lincolnville, South Carolina.

Rose claimed that the agency unlawfully shaved off his dreadlocks in April 2017. He argued that he should be allowed to grow his hair to “unlimited length” as part of his religion.

In the lawsuit, Rose said he grew out dreadlocks as part of the Rastafarian religion and asked to be accommodated with marijuana. In response, Rose claimed the defendant jumped on him, held him down in restraints and physically forced him to get a haircut.

“The injuries I've sustained related to the events were migraine headaches, psychological trauma, mental anguish (depression), panic attacks and nightmares,” Rose claimed.

Rose said in his lawsuit that he was seeking $1,000,000 in actual and punitive damages due to the defendant using “excessive force to maliciously and sadistically cause harm.” He also requested to regrow his dreadlocks and be supplied with marijuana.

The inmate was involved in a fatal shooting on January 24, 2012. A jury found that he directed two men to murder Shannon in front of one of his seven children, but found that Rose was not the person who pulled the trigger. The victim was shot once in the head, twice in the upper body and once on the leg.

Rose also held a gun to a woman's head before fleeing the scene, WCSC reported. The two other suspects with Rose had not been identified per the 2013 WCSC report.

Rose was sentenced to life in prison. He was being held at McCormick Correctional Institution, according to jail records. His lawsuit against the state's correctional facility was filed on December 10.

James Rose
James Rose, 41, is serving a life sentence following a murder conviction in 2013. He claims his religious freedoms were violated when he was denied marijuana and made to shave his dreadlocks. South Carolina Department of Corrections