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Thread: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

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    Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Barry Hazle, an atheist, was declared in violation of parole and sent back to prison for 100 days for refusing to participate in a religious treatment program. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

    Barry Hazle, an atheist, was declared in violation of parole and sent back to prison for 100 days for refusing to participate in a religious treatment program.

    Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
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    Barry Hazle, an atheist, was declared in violation of parole and sent back to prison for 100 days for refusing to participate in a religious treatment program.
    Image 1 of 1
    Barry Hazle, an atheist, was declared in violation of parole and sent back to prison for 100 days for refusing to participate in a religious treatment program.

    Barry Hazle was paroled after a one-year prison term for methamphetamine possession in 2007 and was ordered to spend the next 90 days in a residential drug treatment program. When he arrived, officials told him it was a 12-step program, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, that required participants to confess their powerlessness and submit to a “higher power” through prayer.

    Hazle, a lifelong atheist, had asked for a secular treatment program. He said he was told this was the only state-approved facility in Shasta County, where he lived, but that it wasn’t a stickler for compliance.

    “They told me, 'Anything can be your higher power. Fake it till you make it,’” he recalled.

    Hazle refused and was declared in violation of parole and sent back to prison for 100 days. Seven years and two federal court rulings later, he and his lawyers announced a $1.95 million settlement Tuesday of a suit against the state and its contractor, WestCare California, for wrongful incarceration in violation of his religious liberty.

    The money, which includes attorneys’ fees, wasn’t his main object, Hazle said. “I just want to make sure that somebody else doesn’t have to go through this kind of thing,” he said.

    That’s apparently not guaranteed, despite the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s efforts to have its parole agents respect parolees’ diverse religious views. In November 2008, the department ordered agents to refer paroled drug and alcohol offenders to nonreligious treatment programs if they objected to religiously based 12-step regimens. The order followed a federal appeals court ruling that said Hawaii had violated another parolee’s rights by ordering him to take part in Alcoholics Anonymous.

    But in an August 2013 ruling in Hazle’s case, the same federal court quoted WestCare, a contractor for the department in Shasta County and several Central California counties, as saying it continues to refer all parolees to 12-step residential programs. WestCare said it never received the corrections department’s order and doesn’t understand the term “alternative non-religious program.”

    The settlement provides $1 million from the state and $925,000 from WestCare. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Tuesday it “does not require a 12-step program as a condition of parole.” An attorney for WestCare declined to comment.
    Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab - SFGate
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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Your first problem is that it's a 12-step program. Those groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous) usually only have a 3% success rate.
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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    It's kind of insane how much special treatment AA gets when it is setup so closely to a religious cult. Surely in the 80 years since this silly program was developed, we'd have more scientific knowledge about addiction and better medicine than what is essentially a religious course. The overt endorsement of the AA program and the lack of a better, scientific, and secular option really is an unconstitutional entangling of government and religion.
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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Quote Originally Posted by brothern View Post
    Your first problem is that it's a 12-step program. Those groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous) usually only have a 3% success rate.
    Even though I have not personally entered or attended any programs to beat additions I've had, this report seems to speak highly of AA and others. The biggest hang up I see is the God/higher power factor that so many try to push under the table as nonsense.

    Guess what if you truly put your life in God's hands, you likely won't need a program. IMHO.

    Recent research offers compelling support for the effectiveness of Twelve Step-based treatment -- Hazelden
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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Quote Originally Posted by Paschendale View Post
    It's kind of insane how much special treatment AA gets when it is setup so closely to a religious cult. Surely in the 80 years since this silly program was developed, we'd have more scientific knowledge about addiction and better medicine than what is essentially a religious course. The overt endorsement of the AA program and the lack of a better, scientific, and secular option really is an unconstitutional entangling of government and religion.
    When you've lost your soul to addiction, who better to return it to you than God? Like you said, science can't do it.
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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Quote Originally Posted by brothern View Post
    Your first problem is that it's a 12-step program. Those groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous) usually only have a 3% success rate.
    They have no better of a success rate than secular programs but a lot of people who fail religious 12-step programs are considered never to have been part of the program in the first place. A lot of them cook their own numbers to look more successful than they are.
    There is nothing demonstrably true that religion can provide the world that cannot be achieved more rationally through entirely secular means.

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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    The ruling seems right, the size or the payout seems ridiculous.

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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Quote Originally Posted by WCH View Post
    When you've lost your soul to addiction, who better to return it to you than God? Like you said, science can't do it.
    Oh sure, trade one irrational addiction for another, what a good idea!
    There is nothing demonstrably true that religion can provide the world that cannot be achieved more rationally through entirely secular means.

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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    AA meetings were great, afterwards we'd all go to the bar and talk about how we're gonna quit drinking, over a few shots, few beers, few games of pool.

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    Re: Atheist inmate settles for $1.95 million over 12-step drug rehab

    Quote Originally Posted by WCH View Post
    Even though I have not personally entered or attended any programs to beat additions I've had, this report seems to speak highly of AA and others. The biggest hang up I see is the God/higher power factor that so many try to push under the table as nonsense.

    Guess what if you truly put your life in God's hands, you likely won't need a program. IMHO.

    Recent research offers compelling support for the effectiveness of Twelve Step-based treatment -- Hazelden
    If you believe in God and turn yourself over to a higher power and confidently think a force is helping you quit, it could have a profoundly positive impact. However for those of us that don't subscribe to that, it doesn't work very well. I'd rather use something scientific and methodical myself. The way quit is I got the idea in my head over a period of years that I really, really, really need to quit and after a few million times I finally did. I would have preferred something other than raw willpower and can't stand AA.

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