Atheist Sent To Jail For Rejecting God, In Blatant Violation Of The Constitution

Author: August 27, 2013 6:10 pm

The Constitution doesn’t apply, apparently, when it comes to atheists. Barry Hazle, an avowed atheist from California, has had his parole revoked, and you’ll balk at why. According to Courthouse News ServiceHazle rightfully sued his parole officer, several corrections officials with the state of California, and Westcare Corp. for revoking his parole after his “congenial” refusal to acknowledge a higher power in a required 12- Step Program.

Hazle said that he had already expressed discomfort with participating in religiously based drug treatment programs after a plea of “no contest” to a methamphetamine possession charge. Despite the fact that everyone involved knew he was was an atheist, Hazle was released from prison into a 90-day treatment facility, where all of the programs available followed the 12 step method, which requires the acknowledgment of a higher power. When Hazle refused to participate, the staff reported him to his parole officer, and he went back to prison for 100 days.

Hazle filed a efderal civil rights suit seeking damages for false imprisonment and other civil rights violations. San Francisco U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell found the defendants in Hazle’s case liable for civil rights violations. However, when he turned the case over to a jury, they awarded Hazle zero damages.

Hazle appealed for a new trial, and was denied. Finally, a three- judge panel of the 9th Circuit found that Hazle was entitled to damages in his civil rights suit. From Judge Stephen Reinhardt:

The district judge’s finding of liability establishes that Hazle suffered actual injury when he was unconstitutionally incarcerated. Given this undisputed finding that Hazle’s constitutional rights were violated, and applying the rule that the award of compensatory damages is mandatory when the existence of actual injury is beyond dispute, we hold that the district judge erred in refusing to hold that Hazle was, as a matter of law, entitled to compensatory damages. We therefore reverse the district judge’s denial of Hazle’s motion for a new trial.

I’ll say he is entitled. And if the damages awarded are something insanely small, we’ll know where this nation stands with regards to the First Amendment: it only applies to some. Then again, we already knew that, didn’t we?

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7 Comments

  • And who is the most ‘persecuted’ in America? According to Xtians: Xtians.

    Give me a freaking break!

  • I was in a similar situation many years ago when I used my health insurance to attend an out-patient recovery center to help me stop drinking and stay sober. As a lifelong atheist I too objected to the 12-step “higher power” concept and gave the group leader an earful. The next day the director met me for coffee to talk to me about it. She had actually assumed that since I didn’t believe in “god”, then I must think that I WAS “god”. I disabused her of that theory. As an aside, the manual that they gave us stated that homosexuality was a sign of alcoholism. I had to educate them about that as well. Fortunately I was there on my own volition so they couldn’t really say much.

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