was a Mormon church member in Michigan; convicted of sex crimes; sentenced in 2001 to prison; while in prison, argued that prison officials violated his religious rights by confiscating photos of scantily clad females between the ages of 14-26

Case report

Offense: 2 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct, 4th Deg & 2 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct, 3rd Deg
Date of offense: 06/01/2000
Date of sentence: 07/20/2001
Discharge date: 10/23/2020

Filed May 14, 2010 – in regard to confiscated photos Barhite posessed of scantily clad women aged 14-26. Prison officials believed these females may have been the victims of Barhite’s sex crimes.
RONALD LEE GILMAN, Circuit Judge. This case arises out of the decision of prison officials to confiscate numerous photographs of scantily clad young women in provocative poses that belonged to plaintiff Melvin E. Barhite, a Michigan state prison inmate. Barhite has been incarcerated since 2001 as a result of his convictions for various sex offenses. Claiming that the prison officials seized his photographs because he is a Mormon, Barhite brought suit pro se under 42 U.S.C. 1983. He alleged that the officials actions violated his rights under the First Amendment and under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act (RLUIPA). The district court sua sponte dismissed Barhites lawsuit, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), for failure to state a claim. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court. Barhite is a member of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a church historically related but now separate from the religious group that ran the Texas compound. Nevertheless, shortly after the raid occurred and was publicized, Barhite alleges that prison officials at Lakeland confiscated several items of his personal property, including the photographs in question. Barhite claims that, around the same time, one official who knew that he was a Mormon questioned him about the incidents in Texas. Roughly one month later, the officials at Lakeland returned his property, including the photographs, to him. Barhite was transferred shortly thereafter to a different prison, the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility. Twice during July 2008, officials at Gus Harrison inspected Barhites photographs, which he generally refers to as various photos of young ladies. Following the second inspection, the officials confiscated the photographs. The official report on the incident, according to Barhites complaint, described the items as 1 photo album containing photos of young girls in provocative poses, in swinsuits [sic], bras [sic], panties, and only in a towel. Barhite admits in his complaint that the females pictured in these photographs range in age from 14 to 26 and acknowledges that he refused to explain to prison officials his relationship with the young women. Compl. at 15. After a hearing was held on the matter on July 25, 2008, prison officials concluded that the young women in the photographs might be the victims of Barhites sex crimes. They therefore refused to return the items to him.

Case facts

Case photos

Case information sources

  1. Melvin Barhite v. Patricia Caruso
    view source details | 14 May 2010 | Judy Records
  2. Melvin Eugene Barhite Profile
    view source details | 10 Nov 2023 | Offender Radar

Case information source details

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