The Amish convicted in beard-cutting hate crimes against other Amish, are fighting their sentence, saying that their incarceration in separate facilities around the country is an unfair burden on their families, and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of their constitutional rights. The filings sought to gain the release of seven of the Amish convicted, so far six have been denied by the Akron trial judge.
In 2011 a group of 16 Amish men and women, all followers of apparently renegade Amish cult leader Sam Mullet, were sentenced for hate crimes after rash of beard-cutting assaults terrorized the Amish in eastern Ohio. As many as 30 beard cutters were believed to have been involved in attacks on Amish that Mullet claimed were no longer strict enough followers of the faith. The perpetrators would enter a home, say “Sam Mullet sent us here, and we’re here on religious business,” and proceed to shave the men and cut the women’s hair, badly, for their perceived offense of straying from the faith. Amish abstain from such activities believing that they are indicative of vanity.
The case was unusual in that the Amish usually prefer to handle such matters within their Church, but in this case were fine with having Mullet and his followers hauled off by the police.
Mullet was sentenced to 15 years in prison. His three sons were also convicted. To visit them Mullet’s wife must travel from Ohio to Oklahoma, Louisiana and prisons in Minnesota that are 160 miles apart. Presumably she has to hire a driver each time. Just like beard cutters allegedly did when they went on their rampage.
The rest of Mullet’s followers are serving sentences of anywhere from one to seven years. It is likely that any appeals will be filed in the summer of 2013.