Faith-Based Drug Treatment Programs

Treatment options must be carefully considered by the courts. Various Federal court rulings have determined that offering only Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) programs, because of their religious basis, violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution. Ruling in the case of Kerr v. Farrey in the 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, Judge Diane P. Wood wrote: "The question pre- sented in this case is whether a state correctional institution may require an inmate, upon pain of being rated a higher security risk and suffering adverse effects for parole eligibility, to attend a substance abuse counseling program with explicit religious content, consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Applying the test of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), the district court concluded that the prison program did not violate the Establishment Clause and granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. We find, to the contrary, that the state has impermissibly coerced inmates to participate in a religious program. We therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings." Judge Wood further noted that "the Court of Appeals of New York has recently come to the same conclusion we reach today in Matter of David Griffin v. Coughlin" and that "Our conclusion is thus in harmony with that of other courts that have considered similar questions."

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Ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit No. 95-1843 James W. Kerr, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Catherine J. Farrey and Lloyd Lind, Defendants-Appellees, Judge Diane P. Wood, Decided August 27, 1996.
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