Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Joseph Hanas of Michigan was 19 when he pleaded guilty to a marijuana charge. The Detroit News tells us what happened then:

... [he] was placed in a diversion program for young, non-violent offenders.

Upon the recommendation of a probation officer, Judge Robert Ransom sentenced Hanas to the state-sponsored rehabilitation program -- the Inner City Christian Outreach Residential Program, run by a Pentecostal church.

Hanas said the program did not offer drug treatment or counseling, nor did it have any organized program other than reading the Bible and attending Pentecostal services.

He said his rosary and prayer book was taken from him and his religion was denounced as "witchcraft." Hanas said he was told his only chance of avoiding prison and a felony record was to convert to the Pentecostal faith.

Hanas got legal help -- some of it from the ACLU -- and filed a lawsuit, which is still pending.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claims Ransom acknowledged the failings of the center but ruled that Hanas did not satisfactorily complete the program and sentenced him to three months in jail, three months in a boot camp, and placed him on a tether for three months. Ransom also placed Hanas on four years probation, which he continues to serve....

When this story first broke last year, Bartholomew's Notes on Religion dug up some of the ACLU's legal papers (PDF), which pick up the story:

Christian Outreach ... prohibited Mr. Hanas from seeing his priest. (See Exhibit I, Affidavit of Diane Kropelnitski attached to defendant's Motion for Reassignment, p 2). In fact, when Mr. Hanas' aunt called Christian Outreach to try to make arrangements for his deacon to visit him, the director of Christian Outreach, Pastor Rottier, told the aunt, that Mr. Hanas "gave up his right of freedom of religion when he was placed into this program." ... The deacon further said that he had spoken with Judge Ransom several times about this issue and that Judge Ransom knows that he "won't have any other religious clergy in here."

... Mr. Hanas was required to study the bible for seven hours a day. (Exhibit H, p 29; Exhibit F, p 19). He was also given tests on Pentecostal principles. (See Exhibit J). When Mr. Hanas unwittingly violated one of the church's rules, he was forced into a three-day "word fast" during which time he was required to remain silent and read the bible continuously. (Exhibit H, p 28). Initially, Mr. Hanas' mother was not able to speak with him except when she attended Pentecostal church services, but she was later told that she could not even attend the services. (Exhibit H, pp 30-31).

At one of the Wednesday night religious services, Pastor Rottier told Mr. Hanas and the other participants in Christian Outreach that in order to successfully complete the program they would have to go up to the altar and declare that they were saved. (Exhibit F, pp 11-12). In fact, the pastor repeatedly threatened that Mr. Hanas would be "washed of the program and go to prison" if he did not do what the pastor said. (Exhibit F, p 14; Exhibit H, pp 32-33).

According to the Detroit News story, Judge Ransom, who's now retired, stopped sending prisoners to Inner City. But no one's ever made amends to Hanas, so he's still suing.

Gee, and I thought the secularists had taken over this country.

(Via DU.)

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