Sacramento court rules in favor of atheist parolee

From: Ruthe
Sent on: Saturday, April 17, 2010 6:56 PM

Sacramento court rules in favor of atheist parolee

Associated Press - April 17,[masked]:44 PM ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A Sacramento federal court judge has ruled in favor of a Redding parolee who sued the state after he was sent back to prison because he refused to take part in an inpatient treatment program with a strong religious overtone.

The man, Barry Hazle Jr., served a year in prison on a drug charge. After being released in 2007 he was ordered to take part in the program, but refused because he claims to be an atheist.

When Hazle asked to be transferred to a non-religious program, his parole agent arrested him on parole violation for failing to participate in the program to which he had been assigned.

After serving three more months, Hazle sued the state corrections department.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. ruled that forced participation in a religious program had violated Hazle's constitutional rights.

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