Religious Discrimination in Recovery Programs

There are reasons besides going to jail, losing your license, and paying large fines to avoid a DUI conviction. Many people convicted also have to go to DUI school and may be forced to attend a recovery program. Those who do go to jail are often given a choice, attend the recovery program or go back to your cell.

However, some of these programs are religiously-oriented. For those who aren’t a member of the religion, it can infringe on their rights. went into some of the problems this can cause, especially for atheists.

One person in the story convicted of her third DUI was forced to attend a 990-dayprogram in Santa Ana. She requested a non-religious program, but the probation officer said that the religious one was where they sent everyone and that it was the only option.

She had to wait 37 days in jail before there was even an open slot. She reports that she was expected to feel grateful for the program before her court appearances and if she didn’t then it was a setback. Her refusal to acknowledge a higher power was considered to be her addiction talking.

Programs like this continue despite a 2014 lawsuit in California that settled a suit between an atheist and the state for $2 million over forced attendance of recovery classes that required acknowledgment of a higher power.

“If you’re doing to drink, don’t drive,” said former judge and Dallas DWI lawyer,  Randall Blair Isenberg.  “But if you think you’re sober enough and still get arrested, you need protection against situations like these”, he continued.



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