Atheist parolee sent back to prison must be compensated, court says

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 California should compensate an atheist parolee for returning him to prison after he resisted participating in a religious-based drug treatment program, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Friday.


A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a jury should award Barry A. Hazle Jr., a drug offender, compensatory damages for his loss of freedom and could consider possible punitive and emotional distress damages as well.

The appeals court also ordered a district judge in Sacramento to reconsider whether to issue an injunction to prevent California officials from requiring parolees to attend treatment programs that emphasize God or a “higher power.”

Written By: Maura Dolan
continue to source article at latimes.com

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  1. I have no problem about a state requiring an offender to attend a rehab course as an alternative to prison: so far, so enlightened.

    But if the state has no truly secular rehab courses available, the state needs to bloody well get on and create some. There are plenty of scientifically credible alternatives to the typical AA 12-step programme bullshit, and many of them produce demonstrably better results.

    I hope Mr Hazle’s damages are exemplary, and adequate to deter damnfool judges from any such nonsense in future.

    • In reply to #3 by Stevehill:

      I have no problem about a state requiring an offender to attend a rehab course as an alternative to prison: so far, so enlightened.

      I do. It’s bs. Drug possession shouldn’t be a criminal offense.

      • In reply to #7 by Serdan:

        In reply to #3 by Stevehill:

        I have no problem about a state requiring an offender to attend a rehab course as an alternative to prison: so far, so enlightened.

        I do. It’s bs. Drug possession shouldn’t be a criminal offense.

        I support legalisation of all drugs, but that is a different debate.

        My support is qualified by a requirement for public health awareness programmes and widespread rehab on demand, when in most western countries demand exceeds supply of such courses (whether religiously based or not) by miles.

  2. This isn’t the first time I’ve really been proud of a 9th Circuit decision; somehow, there must be some judges on it who care about individual rights.

    The 9th Circuit is the largest such court in the U.S. It covers the far west (including Hawaii and Alaska) and includes about 20% of the U.S. population.

    I congratulate and thank both the parolee and the 9th Circuit for upholding our rights and the separation of church and state. For the parolee to select prison over a nutter drug program must have taken real guts.

  3. In reply to #1 by aroundtown:

    Would be nice if the cash could come out of religious coffers but at least he is getting his due regardless of the circumstances of his situation. Relying on, or praying to a higher power always provides the same result, nothing. Forcing someone to believe that crud at their expense is outrageous….

    I’m happy that some gov officials have been reminded that the separation of church and state still has some teeth in it and that the asses in danger are theirs.

  4. The courts seem to have been stricken with a remarkable sense of fairness. The notion of precedent and need for consistency means that once one judge starts ruling for fairness, it starts a tide.

  5. I found it odd that a new trail has to be set because the first jury refused to award damages. Was the jury biased against a “druggie” or an atheist?

    It also boggles my mind that there is NOT a non-religious based program available. Given the supposedly strict separation between state and church in the USA I assumed any such program in a government setting would be secular.

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