Va. inmates no longer isolated over haircut refusal

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Several Rastafarian and other inmates in Virginia who had been held in isolation for refusing to cut their hair are being moved to a prison where they can live together.

The Virginia Department of Corrections confirmed Wednesday that 31 inmates have been transferred to Keen Mountain State Prison in southwest Virginia.

Some Rastafarian inmates have been held in isolation since 1999 for refusing to cut their hair because of their religious beliefs. The Associated Press reported in June that nearly 50 inmates were being isolated because of the policy.

Department spokesman Larry Traylor says the change was made to better manage bed space.

Traylor says that while the inmates will be housed two to a cell, they will not have all the privileges of inmates in the general population.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.