Early in her legal career, Shima Baradaran Baughman represented a Hasidic rabbi who said that his ability to pray according to his Jewish beliefs was being prohibited while serving his prison sentence. The Bureau of Prisons insisted that Rabbi Mordechai Samet pray in his cell—a cell containing a toilet, making it an unclean place for Rabbi Samet, as well as other Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists, to pray. The Bureau of Prisons accommodated Shima’s client but did not make allowances for Muslim inmates in the same federal prison.
Shima was so compelled by the rabbi’s desire to have free exercise of religion that, since that case, she has worked tirelessly to cut pretrial detention rates and to improve the lives of those who are incarcerated. The desire to help inmates can be traced back easily to an experience—possibly the first memory she has of her childhood—of visiting her mother in an Iranian prison.
Although just 6 years old when her family immigrated to the United States, Shima still has vivid memories of her time in Iran and those memories have shaped every aspect of Shima’s life.
Read the rest of Shima’s story at magnifythegood.com.