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Court: Ex-con can sue Illinois prison officer over sheared dreadlocks

(FILES) A photaken an unknown locati1976 shows Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley. A Hollyood studio has purchased film rights autobiography

(FILES) A photo taken at an unknown location in 1976 shows Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley. A Hollyood studio has purchased film rights to the autobiography of Marley's widow Rita Marley, industry press reported on March 4, 2008. Daily Variety reported that the Weinstein Studio has purchased the rights to the 2004 book "No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley," and hopes to release the biopic at the end of 2009. Jamaican-born Bob Marley, an international superstar of reggae music, died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36. AFP PHOTO/FILES/HO (Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images)

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Updated: February 21, 2012 8:37AM

Dreadlocks, Bob Marley and an unwanted haircut — those are the unlikely subjects of an opinion issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court has devoted 11 pages to explaining why Omar Grayson, a former inmate of the Big Muddy Correctional Center in southern Illinois, can sue a prison officer who forced him to shear his thick, braided locks.

The opinion even includes a photograph of reggae superstar Marley, who died in 1981, to illustrate what dreadlocks look like.

Grayson, a member of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, said the haircut violated his religious rights. The appellate court noted that the prison allows committed Rastafarians to keep dreadlocks but appeared to discriminate against other religions that also hold long hair in high esteem.

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