Wiccan services allowed in Fayette prison
A Fayette County woman will be permitted to hold Wiccan services in the county prison chapel, according to prison board members who directed the warden to accommodate the woman's request.
Kathryn Jones of Uniontown told the board Wednesday she has “15 years' leadership as a Wiccan.”
Wicca identifies itself as witchcraft, an “old religion” that seeks harmony with all things in the natural world, according to the website of The Church and School of Wiccan.
Jones said she had been permitted to conduct services in the prison chapel in the past, but recent requests have been denied.
“I've asked for months for a visit in the chapel,” Jones said.
Jones acknowledged she was allowed to conduct a 20-minute “clergy visit” by phone last week, but she alleged the call was disrupted by “guards screaming and cursing in the background.”
Warden Brian Miller said clergy who want to use the chapel make arrangements to do so through the prison chaplain. Miller said the chaplain advises him of such requests prior to approval.
Miller said scheduling conflicts arise because the chapel is used for various purposes, including religious services and inmate visitation.
Angela Zimmerlink and Vincent Zapotosky, county commissioners who serve on the prison board, said Jones' requests are to be granted, provided her requested times do not interfere with previously scheduled uses of the room.
To ensure she has access, they advised Jones to put her requests in writing and to select several different dates and times for the services.
“We all have a right to worship the God of our choice,” Zapotosky said.
In response to a separate concern, Jones discussed regarding a specific inmate's medication. Miller said he looked into the matter and determined it was unfounded. Noting medical privacy issues, the board declined to discuss the matter in detail in public.
Jones questioned overall practices surrounding use of prescription drugs at the jail.
Zimmerlink said one of the county's solicitors will be directed to review the prison's policy regarding inmate medications to ensure proper procedures are in place and followed.
District Attorney Jack Heneks endorsed the recent decision to build a new, $32 million jail.
Heneks said the additional space in a new prison will allow for the introduction of various programs aimed at curbing recidivism, including those for drug and alcohol treatment.
Heneks said drug and alcohol abuse are evident in 80 percent of the cases he handles annually. Addiction leads to crimes such as burglaries, robberies and an increase in retail thefts, he said.
“I see the concern and fear of Fayette County residents about how drugs have taken over many people's lives,” Heneks said. “Those are the fears and concerns, and we need to be able to address that.”
A new prison and the programs it will accommodate won't be a “panacea” for cutting down on crime,” Heneks said. It “is a step in the right direction.”
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Torn thumb ligament puts Josh Harrison on DL
- McCandless mom suspected of drowning sons found competent to stand trial
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- McIlroy, world’s No. 1 golfer, injures ankle playing soccer
- Alle-Kiski farmers: Crops weather heavy rain
- Earnhardt wins rain-delayed Daytona ahead of scary crash
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Online series recognizes Hampton as top-notch school
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’