A Muslim woman is suing guards at San Diego's Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for discriminating against her and her inmate husband over their religious beliefs.
The woman, Marissa Loftis, has visited her husband Marquise Deangelo Loftis on a weekly basis since 2010, when he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term for shooting a San Diego trolley security guard and assaulting two others at a trolley station in Encanto in 2009.
Since 2010, Loftis says guards have harassed the couple during weekly visitations for their religious beliefs and ethnicity. Loftis has filed numerous complaints about the mistreatment.
One of the those complaints was filed in July 2015 with the California Corrections Department. Loftis described what she considered a "pattern and practice of harassment" by prison guards.
"Their racial profiling and religious discrimination against myself and my husband based on their independent and collective actions reveal their distaste for African-Americans and specifically, African-Americans who are as my husband and I are Muslims."
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court September 14, Loftis says guards made her change her clothes numerous times during visits and have accused her of concealing contraband inside of her burqas.
The discrimination, says the lawsuit, culminated on April 17 of this year when Loftis says prison guards detained the couple's six-year-old son for over three hours while guards forced her to undergo a full-body strip search.
"Visiting room staff have been at times acerbic in their dealing with myself and my husband. It has appeared and appears that we are targeted due to our skin hue and religious beliefs as practicing Muslims."
Loftis is asking a federal judge to award punitive damages.