And this time it involves a reader of this blog, Barry Hazle. Hazle was arrested on drug possession charges and after spending a year in jail, he was required as a condition of probation to attend a 90 day residential drug rehab program. He was assigned to Empire Recovery Center, which uses a 12 step program that includes religion. Hazle is an atheist.
He objected to being placed in a religious rehab program and asked the state officials and his parole officer to assign him to a secular rehab center instead. He was denied. They told him that all of the rehab programs in Northern California are such 12 step programs. He filed an official appeal citing court rulings on the unconstitutionality of his rehab, but his parole officer placed him under arrest for violating his parole by refusing the residential treatment program.
Here’s the worst part:
Hazle was incarcerated at the Shasta County Jail, then transported to the High
Desert State Prison, and ultimately sent to the CRC state prison in Norco, California, a facility
recognized by California’s governor to be “overcrowded” and “very dangerous for…the inmates.” Hazle was incarcerated a total of roughly 125 days as a result of the revocation of his parole.
This is blatantly unconstitutional by any sane standard. If the first amendment prevents anything at all, it must prohibit this.