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Death Row Inmate Loses Jewish Prayer Appeal

A Kentucky death row inmate was denied his request to pray on the Jewish Sabbath in the prison’s chapel.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 11 that William Harry Meece, 40, can pray in his cell, The Associated Press reported.

Meece had petitioned to be allowed to pray in the Institutional Religious Center at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville on his own or with other Jewish inmates, according to AP. Meece said it was a burden to pray in his cell, in part because of the toilet there. Meece lives separately from the rest of the prison population in an area with other death row inmates.

The three-judge appeals court panel said Meece can cover the toilet with a sheet and pray in his cell.

Meece, who is awaiting execution for killing three people in 1993, sued the Kentucky Department of Corrections in 2007 for the right to pray outside his cell, accusing the department of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that allows prisoners to worship as they please.

The prison says it is a security risk to allow Meece to join services with Jewish inmates from the general prison population.

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