Ex-warden: Indiana prison can’t afford daily prayers for Muslim inmates

INDIANAPOLIS — The former warden of the federal prison that houses American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh says the facility can’t afford to accommodate daily group prayers for Muslim inmates.

Charles Lockett testified Thursday in federal court in Indianapolis that the prison would have to hire 84 chaplains to provide daily prayers for all inmates. He says that would cost $8.4 million a year.

Lockett says providing accommodations for only some inmates would foster dissent at the Terre Haute, Ind., facility.

Lindh says the policy in the tightly controlled unit where he’s held violates his religious rights. The government says the restrictions are necessary for security.

The trial in Lindh’s civil lawsuit began Monday.

Lindh pleaded guilty in 2002 to supplying services to the now-defunct Taliban government and carrying explosives for them.

In this Jan. 24, 2002 file photo, with his head shaven and his stare fixed straight, American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh leaves the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., before dawn, on the way to his first appearance in a nearby federal court. Lindh is expected to testify Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, in Indianapolis during the first day of the trial over prayer policies in a tightly restricted prison unit where he and other high-risk inmates have severely limited contact with the outside world. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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