In February of 2007, after spending time in prison for drug possession, Barry A. Hazle Jr. was finally released on parole.
Parole came with a few strings attached, though. Hazle had to attend a 90-day drug treatment program which, in his case, involved the Twelve-Step program most commonly associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. As we’ve discussed on this site before, several of those steps include references to God and submitting to a “higher power.”
Hazle — an atheist — wanted no part of that, so he asked to be reassigned to a secular treatment program. Even as he began attending the Twelve-Step classes, he objected to them. Three days after his parole officer received the appeal, Hazle “was called out of a program class and arrested for violating parole… He was sent back to prison for four months.”
It made absolutely no sense. That same year, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals specifically ruled “that a parolee [couldn't] be ordered to attend [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings as a condition of staying out of prison.”
It has taken a long time to resolve this issue, but there’s finally some justice for Hazle today and it comes from the same Court of Appeals:
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