Huge News: California Prisons Don't Have to Subsidize Wicca

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/06/01/37004.htm

Here is the Court Case:

Here you can download court decision as PDF: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/06/01/09-16404.pdf

California Prisons Don't Have to Subsidize Wicca
By TIM HULL
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(CN) - The 9th Circuit on Wednesday rejected a Wiccan chaplain's claims that the California prison system should add a celebrant of Wicca and other pagan or nature-based religions to its paid chaplaincy program.
Without reflecting on the merits of the Wiccan religion, the federal appeals court in San Francisco dashed Patrick McCollum's First Amendment, free-exercise and equal-protection claims against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Rather the court concluded that the volunteer chaplain lacked standing because he "attempts to transform his employment discrimination action into an effort to vindicate the inmates' First Amendment rights."
The paid-chaplaincy program has evolved in California's prison system since the 1930s, and today it employs clergy of the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Native American faiths.
According to 2002 estimates, there are approximately 598 inmates in the system who identify themselves as Wiccan, a term that the ruling says includes "faith groups consisting of Wiccans, Goddess worshipers, Neo-Pagans, Pagans, Norse Pagans (and any other ethnic designation), Earth Religionists, Old Religionists, Druids, Shamans, Asatrus, and those practicing in the Faery, Celtics, Khemetic, Gardnerian, Church of All Worlds, Reclaiming, Dianic, Alexandrian, Iseum of Isis, Reconstructionist, Odinist or Yoruban Traditions, and other similar nature-based faiths." (Parenthesis in original.)
In 2006, McCollum and a group of seven inmates sued the CDCR, arguing that its failure to include a Wiccan chaplain in its paid-chaplaincy program was discriminatory in that it denied them access to worship spaces, sacred items and free worship. Finding that the inmates' claims were both time-barred and unexhausted, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted summary judgment to the agency. Breyer also ruled that McCollum lacked standing to bring such a third-party action in asserting, essentially, that the agency's failure to hire him violated the prisoners' rights.
The three-judge appeals panel agreed with the lower court on all points and ruled unanimously to affirm.
"McCollum challenges the deliberative process, or in his view the alleged lack of process, through which prison officials have thus far measured inmates' needs and accommodated inmates' free exercise rights," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. "His claim, at bottom, asserts not his own rights, but those of third-party inmates."
Since inmates can file their own claims against the program's merits and the lack of a Wiccan minister, McCollum cannot do so for them. Thus, McCollum failed to show one of the essential requirements for third-party standing, the panel ruled.
"Like the district court, we note that prisoners have challenged the program in this very lawsuit and in at least one similar suit," McKeown wrote. "Although the inmates' claims here were dismissed primarily for failure to exhaust, presumably they would have the opportunity to bring similar claims in the future if they comply with procedural requirements. It is the inmates, not McCollum, who have standing to pursue the primary claim he articulated, namely, that the chaplaincy policy 'has the pernicious effect of depriving inmates of other religious accommodations . . . that are afforded to ... inmates [of the five faiths].'"
McCollum also failed to meet the criteria for taxpayer standing, the panel found, as he "does not challenge the expenditure of government funds to provide paid chaplaincies nor even the existence of denomination-specific paid chaplaincies-he challenges only the current allocation of chaplaincies among religious denominations and the procedure for determining such allocations."

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OK, so the next time your neighbor gets stabbed in front of you, remember this story. Bring the guy in and give him milk and cookies. Yum. And tuck him in with his gat, because he is so tired, and make sure he has supper later. Then when this guy ends up raping your wife and your daughter, make sure he has a bubble bath to calm his frayed nerves.
let me see if I have this right , I go to prison, I get tv, I get games to play, I get movie night and ok free health care ,and I even get a education, humm sounds to me as if prison has become a community center , off the backs of the tax payers no wonder there are so many repeat offenders , I thought this was a place never to return to , but it sounds a little like public housing to me. my my how our thinking has changed.
Fantum you are truly missing the Point, I at no Time ever showed Sympathy for a Rapist.
I was talking about how laws are designed to incarserate more folks it is a business.

When did Rape come into this Conversation that is borderline irresponsible on your behalf Fantum.

I was talking about a kid that never hurt Anyone but sold a product to pay rent.

Common sense is the Knowing that Prohibitions like the Amazing failure known as the "War on Drugs" are destroyers of nations.

Even in the most violent Ghetto only 5 percent of people are involved in this the other 95% are folks just going to work living their lives etc..

It is a failed Policy that has Brought this pain to our Republic. Money Grabbing Opportunists Lawmakers who then blame common folks for the Nations Problems, It is Disgusting.,
Truly Fantum is missing the point.

This conversation is not about whether inmates have a right to have access to Chaplains -that is not in question at all, as long as they are Chaplains from the First Tier Religions. Rest assured that Joe Inmate ABSOLUTELY has access to a Christin Chaplain -may not even be able to get away from them if they want to, indeed may not be able to get away from them even if they are not themselves Christian.

The subject of this lawsuit is whether the state can judge one set of religions as First Tier and pay for their Clergy, while designating another set of religions as Second Tier and limit the access of their Clergy. And make no mistake -the implications of such a policy go far beyond the California penal system.
Get used to your thinking because there are those in our government who mean to make it just that! As a matter of fact, the prison system is designed to CAUSE failure to reintegrate into society. Just wait until women are imprisoned for having a miscarriage due to all the stupidity surrounding abortion and womens rights. Do you think perhaps an innocent woman who is imprisoned would deserve a little TV, or free health care? If the five bat certifiable religionists have their way, our prisons will be work houses for the rich, and any one of us could find ourselves enslaved in one. Tax-payers --- we need jobs for anyone to be a tax payer. I don't see a lot of work out there for anyone.
There are several Federal State and Local laws that give the individuals the rights they have while they are in prison and most of those rights will vary from state to state. I would tend to agree that their time should not be used to watch TV or surf the internet, however one of the reasons we fought in many of the wars we have as a nation was to provide religious freedom, and I propose that just because someone broke a law does not mean they are incapable of learning about or establishing a relationship with Universal Deity.
so they should be aloud to learn it in prison ? sounds a little like converstion to me which pagans and wiccans do not do , and how does this fit in with rehabilitates ???? for free people yes , but for prison? I wonder if the Romans, Greeks, and many others did this when they feed you to the lions ?? shakes head.
hmm so someone like me that was forced to be southern baptist when I was younger isn't allowed to change religions? Even though I totally disagree with the principles and the "grown ups" lack of ability to follow the rules they are preaching? If I as an individual am trying to better myself and learn from my mistakes am I not allowed to do so even when that is the purpose of said time?

Sorry to me when we put someone in jail we are telling them they need to think about their actions reflect on them and try to adjust their behavior. If I deny them the opportunity to learn and grow how can I expect them to change? I personally think we have a legal obligation to those individuals to teach them useful trades AND educate them about all manner of things necessary for them to reintegrate into society. Which may include religion and any number of subjects from school. One of the first things they should be forced to do is at least have a high school education level. Yes that would mean forcing them to get a GED but they apparently need structure in their life so give it to them.

Basically if we aren't there for them to ask questions and learn from how can we expect them to value us or our opinion. If the only opinion they get is from the five religions listed then we not only don't get heard we are the Jews from world war 2 in Germany. Basically someone needs to actually sit down and write a really good religion class that should be required that would cover the basics of all the religions and should be a requirement while in prison or before going into any public office but the class would have to be impartial.
I agree with you in every way, Rob.
Spirituality can bring someone away from a life of crime, as it can become the starting point for creating purpose and reasons for lasting change, while giving tools to do so, and overcome ones past that created such a bad situation in the first place.
But let us not forget that this is rather not about the pro or against what a prisoner should have access to, but that every prisoner regarding of what path should have access to their religion if others from different paths such as the book religions have. Equal rights, nothing more, nothing less.
Being sentenced to a prison term means a person is paying for what ever crime they have committed. People make mistakes and when they do things that go against their belief they should have that belief there to guide them back. No person is immune to the human condition, we all make mistakes and you can bet your last nickel that a majority of people have done things they have never been caught doing. What makes us "good" in any belief is our compassion and willingness to guide those who have made mistakes back to their path.
Don't even make me start on that. In my world, they commit murder, assault, rape, and they should have NO rights. They didn't give their victims any rights (and in most cases of brutal crimes, mercy), therefore they should not subscribe to the idea that they have any rights at all. And I wish they would quit breathing my air!
His case was about him getting a job, not about the inmates. And he had no inmates to stand with him to validate his claim of discrimination.

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