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Fla. Appeals Court Says Faith-Based Prison Programs May Violate Constitution

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A challenge to faith-based addiction-treatment programs operating in Florida prisons has been returned to a lower court for further review by the First District Court of Appeals, the Orlando Sentinel reported Dec. 16.

The appeals panel said the circuit court failed to hear all of the facts before rejecting the case filed by the Council for Secular Humanism in 2008. The group was challenging the contract between Prisoners of Christ, Inc., and Lamb of God Ministries and the state of Florida to provide addiction rehabilitation programs.

The agreement could violate the Florida constitution, which requires that the state give “no aid” to any particular religious group, the appeals court said in returning the case to the circuit court for trial.

The Florida legislature approved the contracts in 2001. The faith-based groups provide transitional-housing services to recently released offenders with addiction problems.

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