CINCINNATI — Attorneys for a group of Amish men and women found guilty of hate crimes for cutting the hair and beards of fellow members of their faith in eastern Ohio are arguing that the group’s conviction, sentencing and imprisonment in separate facilities across the country violates their constitutional rights and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, according to recent court filings.
The filings in federal court in Akron, Ohio, seek the release of seven of 16 Amish convicted in September of the 2011 attacks that were meant to shame fellow Amish they believed were straying from strict religious interpretations.
Although six of the requests were denied by the trial judge, one is still pending. Defense attorneys may also appeal denials of the release requests to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
The Amish group’s leader, Samuel Mullet Sr., was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while the rest of the group got sentences ranging from one to seven years.
The Amish have been sent to different prisons across the country, placing an overly harsh burden on their families who – because of their religion – cannot travel by plane and have to hire drivers for car travel, the group’s attorneys argue.
For instance, in order for Mullet’s wife to visit him and three sons convicted in the case, she’d have to travel to Oklahoma, Louisiana and two different prisons 160 miles apart in Minnesota.