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AA Can Not Be Forced Onto Parolees

By KJ Mullins     Sep 18, 2007 in World
Parolees can not be forced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a part of their parole. The federal appeals court made that ruling on September 7 during the Inouye v. Kemna case.
Ricky Inouye is a Buddhist. The philosophies of AA are against his religion and yet he was ordered by the court to attend the 12-step program when he was paroled in 2001 from a drug sentence.
Inouye had been arrested for trespassing and testing positive for drugs in 2001. His parole officer, Mark Nanamori ordered him to go the Salvation Army’s Addiction Treatment Services program. The program requires members to attend AA/NA meetings. Inouye tried it. He attended for a few months before he quit for religious reasons. Because of that his parole was revoked.
In 2003 Inouye sued his parole officer saying that his First Amendment rights had been violated. He didn't live long enough to see his case through though. Son Zenn Inouye took up the cause as representative of his estate.
In 2005 a federal judge in Hawaii ruled against Inouye but that was reversed on September 7th.
Judge Marsha S. Berzon, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel in Inouye v. Kemna, said: “While we in no way denigrate the fine work of AA/NA, attendance in their programs may not be coerced by the state.”
Walter Schoettle the lawyer for Inouye's estate explained the conflict.
“The whole basis of the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous program is that you’re helpless,” Schoettle said, “which was the complete opposite of [Inouye’s] religious beliefs. He believed that your own actions, your karma — the positive and negative things in your past — and your own determination and efforts were the only way to get out of an addiction. It was extremely disturbing to him that he was being told the opposite.”
More about First amendment, Drunk, Alcoholics anonymous