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Nashville Sheriff's Office hiring advocate to help Muslim inmates

(WZTV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn -- Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall says it's always been his goal to have a staff that's representative of Nashville but the changing face of the city is now requiring something beyond hiring choices.

Hall is planning to hire a part time Muslim advocate to not only help inmates understand the justice system but also provide training for staff on things like Muslim eating requirements and the 5 daily prayers Muslims make.

"We can't accommodate everything in that situation but we need to be more aware and conscious of what that means if you're Muslim and in the institution," said Hall.

Hall says he's had success with a similar position that serves the Hispanic population.

Muslims now make up 10% of the jail population.

Hall says that's more than double what you'd find ten years ago.

"You don't want to wait until there's a problem before you start the communication. At that point the communication may not flow very well," said Zulfat Suara with the American Muslim Advisory Council.

Suara's group is working with the Sheriff to help fill this new position.

She believes it will hep both sides avoid misunderstandings.

She uses the possible example of what could happen during fasting months.

"They don't eat from sunrise to sunset. That's something the guards should know about so if somebody is refusing to eat during the day it's not because they riot or protesting," said Suara.

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