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 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 seek the release of seven of 16 Amish convicted in September in the 2011 eastern Ohio attacks, which 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 pending, and the judge could at any time order any of them released as they await the outcomes of their appeals, expected to be filed this summer.
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 relatives, who, because of their religion, cannot travel by plane and have to hire drivers for car travel, the group’s attorneys argue.
For instance, for Mullet’s wife to visit him and three sons convicted in the case, she’d have to travel to Oklahoma, Louisiana and two prisons 160 miles apart in Minnesota.
Prosecutors, in their response filed on Friday, pointed out that Mullet has unsuccessfully argued to be released five times, and they cited comments from federal Judge Dan Polster that Mullet showed no remorse for the attacks.