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Ex-Prisoner Loses Fight for Sweat Lodge, Raw Meat

(CN) - A federal judge tossed a former inmate's lawsuit claiming his religious rights were trampled when he wasn't allowed to build a sweat lodge in prison and was denied raw meat to practice the Wiccan religion.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro on Thursday rejected the 2006 federal lawsuit filed by Scott Fletcher, who was granted parole in January after serving a sentence at High Desert State Prison for first-degree murder.

"Fletcher has failed to prove that denial of a sweat lodge or raw meat for Wiccan rituals places a 'substantial burden' on the exercise of his religion," Pro wrote.

Building a sweat lodge "would pose a threat to safety and security of both inmates and staff at High Desert State Prison," Pro wrote, adding that "the handling and cooking of raw meat poses potential health hazards."

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