Scientology Treatment Program for Prisoners Funded by Feds

Scientologists have scored a victory in New Mexico:

Federal tax dollars are helping to pay for a controversial addiction-treatment program for prisoners in New Mexico based on Scientology precepts…

The Second Chance program is billed as an alternative treatment program for nonviolent offenders and uses the principals of Scientology — such as using saunas, diet, massage and vitamins to purge the body of toxins — to fight addiction. In New Mexico, 24 of the state’s 84 district judges have referred a total of 50 clients to the program since it opened last September.

Second Chance is the only Scientology-based treatment center for inmates in the U.S. A former chief district judge from Albuquerque, W. John Brennan, is a paid consultant hired to promote the program to his former colleagues. But the current chief district judge, William Lang, doesn’t want judges to make referrals to the program, saying he is suspicious of its relationship with the Church of Scientology even though program officials say there is no link.

“There’s a lot of use of sauna with the idea that you sweat out toxins in the system,” said addiction expert Bill Miller, who reviewed the program at the request of the city of Albuquerque. “I don’t know of any scientific basis for that. It wasn’t clear to me what sort of scientific basis there was even for the conception of the program to begin with.”

The most troubling thing about Narconon and other Scientology-based programs is their consistent denials of any connection to the Church of Scientology. Offering a faith-based program is one thing, but misrepresenting themselves is another. weighed in on the WSJ’s over-tentative reporting on matter. Unfortunately the author (Maia Szalavitz) appears to have forgotten to include Twelve Step Facilitation when mentioning evidence-based treatment strategies.