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Atheist Ex-Inmate Gets $2M After Being Sent Back to Jail for Refusing Religious rehab

  1. Basoodler

    A California inmate ordered to spend 90 days in a residential drug treatment center after serving a year in jail for meth possession, refused to enroll in the program because it required he pray to a “higher power.” Barry Hazle, a lifelong atheist, was sent back to prison for 100 days for noncompliance. That was in 2007. This week, “even 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 San Francisco Chronicle reports.

    When [Hazle] 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] 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.

    A federal judge in Sacramento ruled in 2010 that the state had violated Hazle’s rights by revoking his parole and returning him to prison. A jury declined to award damages, but last year the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Hazle was entitled to some financial compensation for his “loss of liberty” and ordered a retrial. The court also said WestCare was potentially liable for referring Hazle to a religiously based program.

    All those claims were resolved by Tuesday’s settlement.

    [By]Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C.
    OCT. 15 2014 10:16 PM


  1. Großschmackhaft
    Re: Atheist Ex-Inmate Gets $2M After Being Sent Back to Jail for Refusing Religious r

    That's 833$ per hour of imprisonment. I'd go to jail for that.
  2. Basoodler
    Re: Atheist Ex-Inmate Gets $2M After Being Sent Back to Jail for Refusing Religious r

    This guy's lawyer is a genius.

    I wonder if the guy was intent on blowing off his sentenced rehab because of the lack of atheist options at first.

    Or if it was a case where he blew off the mandated rehab because he just didn't go.

    ..And he hired a lawyer who stumbled upon this gem while looking for a defense to use.
  3. ianzombie
    Re: Atheist Ex-Inmate Gets $2M After Being Sent Back to Jail for Refusing Religious r

    Or he genuinely disagreed with the enforced law. What makes you believe that he is not an atheist who feels he should not have to fake it through something obviously religiously biased?
  4. perro-salchicha614
    Re: Atheist Ex-Inmate Gets $2M After Being Sent Back to Jail for Refusing Religious r

    I don't think that most religious people even realize that there are atheists who are very committed to their lack of belief in god. In my experience, religious people tend to assume that our atheism means that we don't have a deep philosophical attachment to the choice that we've made to reject religion. Often, when someone has made the choice to reject religion, it is the result of a very long, very deliberate period of introspection. Therefore, to simply tell an atheist to "fake it" is akin to telling a Christian to become a Muslim. It's offensive, and the inmate was completely within his rights to refuse to participate in a religion-based program.
  5. D0pe
    Re: Atheist Ex-Inmate Gets $2M After Being Sent Back to Jail for Refusing Religious r

    I call it a Cult..... I spent over 2 years in a Court Ordered Religious program.. The judge said that she could not force me to go but i figure it would be better than prison so hey why not.. I chose the long route and got screwed royally..

    I graduated the program after 18 months and got a certificate.. ""Which was all that was required of me" Then i headed to the re entry program and go kicked out.. Then i was sent back to prison for not following their rules..

    I got no time served and if it was not for the Sober time and the Teachings it was basically worthless. Especially when you have 2 years down the hole as far as no time served. I had to go straight to prison after the program..

    The funny thing is.. I would of only done 4-5 months if i would of stuck with the prison sentence.. Instead i ended up doing 2 years in a place i got no credit for and plus had to sit another 2 years in Prison.. I got the Raw Deal for sure

    The only way i would of done it differently if they said they would give me Less time if i agreed to do the program after my reduced prison sentence..

    Its to late to dispute this of course.. AS i would of had to file a complain within 2 years or being released if i recall correctly.

    I do know that the prison i was at fined me all the time.. For stuff like Not making my Bed, having Smokes, Or not tucking in your shirt ect ect.. I was able to take that to small claims and got a decent chunk of cash back from the state.. I heard about it because it was done in the past and the defense is that only a judge can fine you in the sentencing.. Not a institution that makes up its own laws..

    Im sure that example varies from state to state..

    After 2 years i was almost brain washed to a point.. Not all of the brain washing was bad In my opinion, as it was mostly centered around teaching someone better morals..

    I am not exactly sure on the laws in my State but its been 7+ years since the very start... Wish i could go back and get payed for my lost time, I am thinking there is probably a cap on the time limit for handling such matters. I think that ship has sailed !!
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