Nathan LeBaron et al. 
Carol Higgins O'Brien, Commissioner, Department of Correction et al.  No. 134810
15, 2016, Filed
OMNIBUS MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON CROSS
MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ET AL.
Shannon Frison, Justice
Court is here tasked with demarcating the scope of the
freedom of free exercise of religion within the confines of
the Massachusetts prison system. The plaintiffs, all inmates
incarcerated at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at
Norfolk (" MCI-Norfolk") and members of the Church
of the Firstborn Kahal Hab'Cor (the " CFB"),
petition the Court, pro se, for several forms of
relief from perceived violations of their rights under the
First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("
RLUIPA"), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a), and
42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the defendants, officials of the
Massachusetts Department of Corrections (the "
among the plaintiffs' motions is a motion for summary
judgment on all counts of the First Amended Complaint (the
" complaint"). Also before the Court are several
motions for temporary restraining orders (" TROs")
and a host of other miscellaneous motions. The defendants
have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and a cross
motion for summary judgment. The Court's disposition on
these motions is listed in its omnibus ORDER, infra
Nathan Marquis LeBaron (" Plaintiff LeBaron") filed
an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Massachusetts, seeking several forms of relief for alleged
violations of his free exercise of religion. See LeBaron
v. Spencer, 527 Fed.Appx. 25, 27 (1st Cir. 2013). The
district court granted summary judgment to the prison
defendants,  mistakenly believing that the parties
had settled Plaintiff LeBaron's claims. Id. The
case was heard by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which,
on July 22, 2013, ruled that Plaintiff LeBaron's
retaliation, equal protection, and conspiracy claims were
nevertheless without merit. However, the First Circuit
remanded summary judgment for Plaintiff LeBaron's claims
under RLUIPA and the First Amendment because questions of
fact remained unanswered. Id. These claims concerned
the defendants' refusal to provide a synagogue for daily
prayer, the ability to engage in group prayer, access to a
kosher diet, and certain religious materials. Id. at
29. Following the First Circuit's decision, Plaintiff
LeBaron opted to file a new lawsuit in this Court. Paper
#100, Ex. 2, p. 2. Other inmates, alleging the same
violations, expressed interest in joining the renewed claim.
developments materialized in the time between the First
Circuit's decision and the instant action, filed on
February 27, 2015. The significant events included: Carol
Higgins O'Brien replaced Luis Spencer as the commissioner
of the DOC; Plaintiff LeBaron formed the CFB, and filed
Articles of Organization with the Secretary of the
Commonwealth pursuant to G.L.c. 180; and the CFB was
certified and recognized as an official religious
organization in the Commonwealth on November 7, 2013. As time
passed, a growing number of inmates joined the CFB. Plaintiff
LeBaron appointed himself the CFB president, as well as
" Chief Judge" of the church's " Beit
Din" (religious court). Similarly, he appointed other
inmates to act as church officers.
five plaintiffs filed the first complaint. See Paper #1.
Ultimately, many additional inmates joined, and the Court
allowed a motion to list all current CFB members on the
docket. See Paper #66. There are now forty-five plaintiffs.
Basis of the Complaint
adheres, in large part, to the precepts of Messianic Judaism,
which " is a hybrid religion that includes both
Christian and Jewish culture and laws and [differs from]
Orthodox Judaism . . . on a few technical points[.]"
Paper #140.1, Ex. 1, Attachment 1. Its mission includes
administering the ministry of " Yeshua" to the
imprisoned. Religious practices include: daily attendance to
a Messianic synagogue; liturgical prayer; study of Scripture
and the Hebrew language; observance of the Shabbat (Sabbath
day) and other holy days; adherence to a special religious
diet (the " Holy Diet"), and obedience to local
" halacha" (religious law).
inmate seeking a religious accommodation must submit a "
religious services request" to the DOC Religious Service
Review Committee (the " RSRC"). The RSRC is
comprised of the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy
Commissioner of Classification, and the Director of Program
Services, and makes global assessments of security concerns
that might arise at the prisons if the DOC permits a new
religious practice, use of a religious item, or participation
in a religious feast. The RSRC reviews religious service
requests and then makes a formal recommendation to the
Commissioner of Correction (" Commissioner"). The
plaintiffs submitted numerous religious services requests,
primarily concerning access to a Messianic Judaism synagogue,
the Holy Diet, and observance of holy days. The Commissioner
approved many of the plaintiffs' requests for access to a
kosher diet, but denied their Holy Diet requests. The
Commissioner also denied the plaintiffs' request for
synagogue space and certain religious items pending location
of a Messianic Jewish volunteer to lead the inmates in
LeBaron submitted another religious services request seeking
appointment of the Catholic chaplain of the Souza-Baranowski
Correctional Center (" SBCC") as the chaplain for
the Messianic Jewish inmates at MCI-Norfolk. The Commissioner
denied this request because the chaplain could not assume
additional responsibilities on top of his full-time schedule.
LeBaron submitted an additional religious services request
for forty-four religious items and books necessary for a
Messianic synagogue, creation of a ritual bath known as a
mikva, over one hundred different types of food
items, and construction of a garden for Messianic Jewish
inmates to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. The Commissioner
also denied these requests.
December 18, 2015, the Court heard arguments on the
plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and the
defendants' motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.
The Court took these motions under advisement. While these
motions and several of the plaintiffs' motions for TROs
remained pending, the plaintiffs submitted several other
motions. These motions are discussed throughout the
Court's discussion. Additional relevant facts are set out
in the discussion below, as needed.
Summary Judgment 
reviewing cross motions for summary judgment, the Court must
assess each motion on its own merits. See Federal Ins. C.
v. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Ins. Group, 415
F.3d 487, 493 (6th Cir. 2005). The fact that both parties
have filed motions for summary judgment " does not
necessarily mean that an award of summary judgment is
appropriate." Beck v. City of Cleveland, 390
F.3d 912, 917 (6th Cir. 2004).
Mass.R.Civ.P. 56(c), either the plaintiffs or the defendants
will be entitled to summary judgment if they can show that no
dispute exists as to any material fact and they are entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. Cassesso v. Commissioner
of Corr., 390 Mass. 419, 422, 456 N.E.2d 1123 (1983).
Either party may satisfy its burden of demonstrating the
absence of triable issues by submitting affirmative evidence
demonstrating entitlement to relief (or the opposing
party's lack of entitlement), or by demonstrating that
the opposing party has no reasonable expectation of proving
an essential element of their case. Flesner v. Tech.
Comm. Corp., 410 Mass. 805, 809, 575 N.E.2d 1107 (1991).
If one party establishes the absence of a triable issue, the
other party must demonstrate, through admissible evidence, an
issue of material fact to defeat summary judgment.
Godbout v. Cousens, 396 Mass. 254, 261, 485 N.E.2d
940 (1985). Neither party may rest on conclusory statements
or bare assertions in opposing a motion for summary judgment.
LaBrecque v. Parsons, 74 Mass.App.Ct. 766, 768, 910
N.E.2d 947 (2009). The Court's function is to peer beyond
the formal allegations and determine whether further
exploration of the facts is necessary. Quincy Mut. Fire
Ins. Co. v. Abernathy, 393 Mass. 81, 87, 469 N.E.2d 797
Temporary Restraining Order
Court considers, simultaneously with the cross motions for
summary judgment, several motions for TROs. In order for the
plaintiffs to succeed on these motions, they must show "
(1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) that
irreparable harm will result from denial of the injunction;
and (3) that in light of the plaintiffs' likelihood of
success on the merits, the risk of irreparable harm to the
plaintiff outweighs the potential harm to the defendant[s] in
granting the injunction." Tri-Nel Mgmt., Inc. v.
Board of Health of Barnstable, 433 Mass. 217, 219, 741
N.E.2d 37 (2001). " When, as here, a party seeks to
enjoin governmental action, the [C]ourt also considers
whether the relief sought will adversely affect the
public." Id., citing Commonwealth v.
Massachusetts CRINC, 392 Mass. 79, 89, 466 N.E.2d 792
(1984). The Court will not grant this " significant
remedy . . . unless the plaintiffs have made a clear showing
of entitlement thereto." Student No. 9 v. Board of
Educ., 440 Mass. 752, 762, 802 N.E.2d 105 (2004).
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
it reaches the merits of the plaintiffs' claims, the
Court considers the defendants' argument that Plaintiffs
Costa, Eisenman, and Serrano are barred from seeking relief
in this Court under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("
PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), and G.L.c. 127,
§ 38F, which require an inmate to exhaust all
administrative remedies before filing an action in state or
federal court. Maraglia v. Maloney, 365
F.Supp.2d 76, 80-82 & n.5 (D.Mass. 2005). See also
Medina-Claudio v. Rodriguez-Mateo, 292 F.3d 31, 36
(1st Cir. 2002) (rejecting argument that PLRA allows
proceedings to continue while prisoner completes exhaustion).
Court is in receipt of a motion by the plaintiffs to deem
that all members of the CFB have exhausted their
administrative remedies. The Court denies this motion. In
support of this motion, the plaintiffs submit a supporting
affidavit which states that " all CFB Members,
respectively, hereby depose" that " almost
every CFB Member has submitted an Inmate Services Request
Form . . ." Id. (emphasis added). The Court
cannot approve the plaintiffs' motion to declare that all
plaintiffs have exhausted their administrative remedies where
the plaintiffs readily admit that some have not. See Ford
v. Clarke, 2011 WL 3816798, *17 (D.Mass. 2011).
Moreover, the affidavit is only signed by Plaintiff LeBaron.
the PLRA's exhaustion requirement is an affirmative
defense. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216, 127 S.Ct.
910, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007). Thus, the burden of establishing
non-exhaustion is borne by the defendants. See id. ;
Casanova v. Dubois, 304 F.3d 75, 77-78 n.3 (1st Cir.
2002). None of the plaintiffs were required to specifically
plead or demonstrate exhaustion in the complaint.
Jones, 549 U.S. at 216. The only evidence of
non-exhaustion cited by the defendants is the May 21, 2015
affidavit of Defendant Christopher Mitchell, Director of
Program Services for the DOC (" Defendant
Mitchell"), which states that Plaintiffs Marco Costa,
Brad Eisenman, and Peter Serrano did not submit any religious
service requests to RSRC. The defendants did not present
documentary evidence that these plaintiffs, or any other
plaintiffs, failed to pursue their administrative remedies by
the date the amended complaint was filed on June 9, 2015. The
defendants' reliance on the Mitchell affidavit, without
documentation of the named plaintiffs' failure to exhaust
administrative remedies, is determinative. See Caldwell
v. Folino, (W.D.Penn. 2011) (reliance on affidavit of
prison official broadly stating that plaintiff never filed a
timely grievance insufficient to meet burden of demonstrating
failure to exhaust administrative remedies). The Court is
therefore entitled to proceed with an analysis of the merits
of this case. See e.g., Ford, 2011 WL 3816798 at
*17. The defendants' cross motion for summary judgment as
against Plaintiffs Costa, Eisenman, and Serano on this basis
RLUIPA Claims 
RLUIPA protects institutionalized persons who are unable to
freely attend to their religious needs and are therefore
dependent on the government's permission and
accommodation for exercise of their religion, "
McGee v. O'Brien, 160 F.Supp.3d 407, (D.Mass.
2016), quoting Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709,
721, 125 S.Ct. 2113, 161 L.Ed.2d 1020 (2005), and provides,
in pertinent part:
No government shall impose a substantial burden on the
religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an
institution, as defined in section 2 of the Civil Rights of
Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. [§ ]1997), even
if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,
unless the government demonstrates that the imposition of the
burden on that person (1) is in furtherance of a compelling
governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means
of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). To prevail on their RLUIPA
claims, the plaintiffs must first establish that the
defendants burdened their religious exercise and that the
burden was " substantial." See Spratt v. Rhode
Island Dept. of Corrs., 482 F.3d 33, 38 (1st Cir. 2007).
If the plaintiffs meet their burden, the burden will shift to
the defendants to demonstrate that the burden imposed on the
plaintiffs furthers a " compelling governmental
interest" and that it is the " least restrictive
means" of doing so. Id. The Court, in employing
this burden-shifting standard, affords due deference to the
defendants' experience as prison administrators in their
role establishing regulations and procedures aimed at
fostering order, security, and discipline. Further, the Court
remains mindful of the defendants' limited resources. See
Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723.
does not define the term " substantial burden." The
United States Supreme Court has said that a burden is "
substantial" if it puts " substantial pressure on
an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his
beliefs, " Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Empl.
Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 101 S.Ct. 1425, 67 L.Ed.2d 624
(1981), or " coerce[s] him into acting contrary to his
religious beliefs." Lyng v. Northwest Indian
Cemetery Protective Ass'n, 485 U.S. 439, 450, 108
S.Ct. 1319, 99 L.Ed.2d 534 (1988). When assessing whether a
burden on a particular religious exercise is substantial, the
Court does not consider whether a RLUIPA claimant is able to
engage in alternative forms of religious exercise; its focus
remains on whether the burden on the specific exercise at
issue is substantial. Trapp v. Roden, 473 Mass. 210,
215, 41 N.E.3d 1 (2015), quoting Holt v. Hobbs, 135
S.Ct. 853, 862, 190 L.Ed.2d 747 (2015).
respect to what government interests are " compelling,
" courts make such determinations on a case-by-case
basis. In the prison context, " [a] prison's
interest in order and security is always compelling."
Blake v. Howard, n.16, 26 Mass.L.Rptr. 335 (2009),
citing Spratt, 482 F.3d at 39 (" [D]eference is
due to institutional officials' expertise in this
area"). See also Hudson v. Dennehy, 538
F.Supp.2d 400, 409 (D.Mass. 2008) (" RLUIPA should be
applied with particular sensitivity when security concerns
are legitimately at issue"). However, " merely
stating that there is a compelling interest does not fully
satisfy the government's burden on this element of
RLUIPA." Blake, Id. n.16, 26
Mass.L.Rptr. 335, quoting Spratt, 482 F.3d at 39.
prove that they employed the " least restrictive
means" of burdening the plaintiffs' religious
exercise in each instance, the defendants must show that they
" lack[ ] other means of achieving [their] desired goal
without [placing] a substantial burden" on the religious
exercise. Cruz v. Collins, 46 N.E.3d 114, 89
Mass.App.Ct. 1108 (2016) (Rule 1:28). " A prison cannot
meet its burden to prove least restrictive means unless it
demonstrates that it has actually considered and rejected the
efficacy of less restrictive measures before adopting the
challenged practice." Trapp, 473 Mass. at 218,
quoting Spratt, 482 F.3d at 41. The defendants
cannot rely on conclusory statements that they employed the
least restrictive means of achieving their interests "
among available, effective alternatives." Ashcroft
v. American Civil Liberties Union, 542 U.S. 656, 666,
124 S.Ct. 2783, 159 L.Ed.2d 690 (2004). " The
least-restrictive-means standard is exceptionally
demanding[.]" Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores,
Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751, 2780, 189 L.Ed.2d 675 (2014). In
fact, " [r]equiring a State to demonstrate . . . that it
has adopted the least restrictive means of achieving [a
compelling] interest is the most demanding test known to
constitutional law." City of Boerne v. Flores,
521 U.S. 507, 534, 117 S.Ct. 2157, 138 L.Ed.2d 624 (1997).
Court's analysis, guided by this well-developed
burden-shifting standard, will proceed as to each religious
exercise. The plaintiffs' claims are predicated on the
DOC's prohibition of the following religious exercises:
(1) worship in a Messianic synagogue; (2) participation in
inmate-led group worship; (3) access to the Holy Diet; (4)
observance of several holy days; and (5) access to books and
other religious materials appurtenant to Messianic worship.
plaintiffs aver that the lack of access to a designated space
to pray and congregate substantially burdens the practice of
the CFB faith. Conversely, the defendants posit that the
burden is not substantial because inmates are allowed to
engage in prayer, religious study, and read Scripture in
their cells. The complaint claims that prayer and study in
the cells is plagued by distractions, making such religious
practice impractical. The plaintiffs profess that daily
" Messianic Synagogue attendance is essential to meet
CFB religious discipleship requirements of central
significance to the religious exercise of CFB Members."
Since [the plaintiffs are] completely barred from praying in
a Messianic Synagogue, an exercise that [they] sincerely
believe[ ] is necessary for the practice of [their] religion,
it is arguable that [they] ha[ve] been forced to 'modify
[their] behavior and to violate [their] beliefs.'"
LeBaron v. Spencer, 527 Fed.Appx. 25, 29 (1st Cir.
2013), quoting Spratt, 482 F.3d at 38. See also
Farrow v. Stanley, (D.N.H. 2004) (finding that
prison's refusal to provide a sweat lodge imposed a
substantial burden on the plaintiff's religion where use
of such a lodge was established as a widely practiced Native
American religious exercise). The defendants cite each
inmate's ability to pray and study in their respective
cells as proof that their religious exercise is not
substantially burdened. They do so without addressing the
plaintiffs' contention that gathering for prayer in a
Messianic synagogue is a central tenant of the CFB faith. The
plaintiffs have met their burden of showing that the
defendants' denial of a Messianic synagogue substantially
burdens their religious exercise.
a compelling governmental interest, the defendants maintain
that the other religious and secular programs available to
inmates make it impossible to accommodate the plaintiffs'
requests without infringing on the space available to other
inmate groups. The prison also lacks the financial resources
to construct a Messianic synagogue on the grounds of the
prison. See Paper #140.1, Ex. 6, ¶ 13.
of cases repeatedly emphasize that prison officials'
interests in effective and cost-efficient administration of
their facilities are compelling. See e.g., Cutter,
544 U.S. at 723 (" due deference [must be afforded] to
the experience and expertise of prison and jail
administrators in establishing necessary regulations and
procedures to maintain good order, security and discipline,
consistent with consideration of costs and limited
resources"; Sossamon v. Lone Star State of
Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 332 (5th Cir. 2009) ("
Effective and affordable prison security at the chapel is a
compelling governmental interest"); Baranowski v.
Hart, 486 F.3d 112, 125 (5th Cir. 2007) (holding that
policy " related to maintaining good order and
controlling costs" serves compelling governmental
interest). However, " cost alone is [not] an absolute
defense to an otherwise meritorious RLUIPA claim."
Holt, 135 S.Ct. at 867 (Sotomayor, J., concurring).
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-3(c). Nevertheless, the
logistical and practical administrative concerns cited by the
defendants related to affording the plaintiffs a designated
Messianic synagogue are significant. The Court, affording the
requisite deference to the defendants, finds that the
defendants have a compelling interest in an effective
resource allocation. See Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723.
defendants bear the burden of demonstrating that they
considered less restrictive alternatives. Washington v.
Klein, 497 F.3d 272, 284 (3rd Cir. 2007); Willis v.
Commissioner, Ind. Dept. of Corr., 753 F.Supp.2d 768,
779-80 (S.D.Ind. 2010). To support their position, the
defendants only produced the affidavit of Sean Medeiros,
Superintendent of MCI-Norfolk, which states that MCI-Norfolk
cannot designate a room in one of its program buildings for
the sole purpose of housing a Messianic synagogue. It claims
that the DOC is left with only one less restrictive
alternative to a complete ban on group religious practice--a
policy permitting group worship only when a Messianic Judaism
volunteer is available.
Although it is not their burden, [the plaintiffs] have
provided a . . . less restrictive alternative[ ] that DOC
could . . . exercise[ ], or attempt[ ] to exercise."
Willis, 753 F.Supp.2d at 779-80. Specifically, the
plaintiffs counter that there are empty classrooms in two
program buildings that could be designated as synagogue
space. They also claim that an empty and unused room in the
" CSD building" previously used for urine testing
would accommodate a synagogue. See First Amended Complaint,
¶ ¶ 80-81. These averments contradict the
defendants' assertions and create a dispute of material
fact whether the defendants have employed the least
restrictive means in denying the plaintiffs a designated
worship space. Although the defendants have presented an
affidavit that states that the prison does not have the space
to accommodate a designated synagogue, in the absence of
supporting evidence, the affidavit is conclusory and does not
suffice to dissolve the question of fact the plaintiffs'
assertions create. See Beerheide v. Suthers, 286
F.3d 1179, 1189 (10th Cir. 2002) ([W]hile [courts must] defer
to the expertise of prison officials, that deference is not
absolute. In order to warrant deference, prison officials
must present credible evidence to support their
stated penological goals") (emphasis in original);
Lovelace v. Lee, 472 F.3d 174, 192 (4th Cir. 2006)
(" There is no basis in this case for a court to . . .
declare the least restrictive means test satisfied without
any substantive explanation from prison officials").
" Where a prisoner challenges the prison's
justification, prison officials must set forth
detailed evidence, tailored to the situation before the
court, that identifies the failings in the alternatives
advanced by the prisoner." Warsoldier v.
Woodford, 418 F.3d 989, 1000 (9th Cir. 2005), quoting
May v. Baldwin, 109 F.3d 557 564-65 (9th Cir. 1997)
(emphasis in original). The defendants have not satisfied
this evidentiary showing. Summary judgment for the defendants
is therefore denied.
does not entitle the plaintiffs to summary judgment on this
claim, however. There exists a question of fact as to whether
there are means available to the defendants less restrictive
than the total preclusion of group worship for CFB members.
The plaintiffs have not presented unrebutted evidence that
there are less restrictive means available to the defendants
to protect their compelling interests. In the absence of such
evidence, a factfinder is entitled to disbelieve the
plaintiffs' rebuttal of the defendants' argument that
their existing policies are the least restrictive means of
serving a compelling government interest. See LaPlante v.
Massachusetts Dept. of Corr., 89 F.Supp.3d 235, 247
(D.Mass. 2015). " Thus, both [the plaintiffs'] and
the [d]efendants' motions for summary judgment are denied
. . ." Id. See also Murphy v. Missouri
Dept. of Corr., 372 F.3d 979, 989 (8th Cir. 2004).
as to this issue, the plaintiffs petition the Court for a TRO
to require the defendants to provide space for use as a
Messianic synagogue while this action proceeds. See Paper
#141 and 142. Entitlement to such an order requires the
plaintiffs to demonstrate the elements for a restraining
order set out above (i.e., a substantial likelihood of
success on the merits, a risk of irreparable harm,
demonstration that the balance of each party's respective
hardships tips in their favor, and some showing that the
order will not adversely affect the public).
Tri-Nel, 433 Mass. at 219.
context of claims made under RLUIPA, a plaintiff need only
establish that the defendant substantially burdened their
religious exercise in order to satisfy the " likelihood
of success" requirement. Kikumura v. Hurley,
242 F.3d 950, 961 (10th Cir. 2001). The plaintiff has done so
with respect to the claim for a synagogue. The implication of
constitutional rights in the plaintiffs' claims is
sufficient to fulfill the irreparable harm requirement. See
Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373, 96 S.Ct. 2673, 49
L.Ed.2d 547 (1976) (" The loss of First Amendment
freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably
constitute irreparable injury"); Jolly v.
Coughlin, 76 F.3d 468, 482 (2nd Cir. 1996) (irreparable
harm requirement satisfied when constitutional rights are
implied in the analysis).
however, the Court does not believe that a TRO is appropriate
where the balance of equities tips in the defendants'
favor in light of the " wide ranging deference"
afforded to prison officials in the administration of their
facilities. Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 288
(4th Cir. 1980); Cryer v. Clarke, 2012 WL 6800791,
*16 (D.Mass. 2012). At trial, the defendants will have the
burden of showing that their denial of designated synagogue
space was the least restrictive means of accomplishing their
compelling interests, but at this juncture, deference to the
defendants' resource concerns tip the balance of
hardships in the defendants' favor. See id.
Moreover, with respect to the fourth element, the public
interest is better served when prisons are run efficiently
and run by prison officials, not courts. See Turner v.
Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 85, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 96 L.Ed.2d 64
(1987). The plaintiffs' motion for a TRO establishing
such a synagogue at MCI-Norfolk, Paper #141, is denied.
plaintiffs allege two substantial burdens on the
plaintiffs' religious exercise with respect to group
prayer. First, the defendants prohibit inmates from
proselytizing religion to other inmates. Second, the
defendants have failed to locate a Messianic Jewish volunteer
to lead members of the CFB in worship.
Court believes that the plaintiffs have demonstrated that
these burdens on their religious exercise are substantial.
The practice of teaching and leading in prayer is central to
the exercise of faith in the CFB. First Amended Complaint,
¶ 85. Members are required to attend synagogue and
" partake of daily ritual communion[.]"
Id., ¶ 86. The Court reemphasizes its holding
that the plaintiffs' ability to conduct individual,
in-cell prayer and study does not render the prohibition on
group prayer insubstantial where assembly of all religious
members to one place for worship is a central tenant of the
faith. See Crawford v. Clarke, 578 F.3d 39, 43-44
(1st Cir. 2009) (finding bar on weekly "
Jum'ah" group prayer substantial where such practice