Religious Rehab At Florida Jail Sparks Protest

The Americans United Sarasota-Manatee Chapter has spoken out against the lack of secular treatment options for inmates at the Sarasota County Jail.

In a letter to the sheriff, AU explained that the only substance abuse programs offered at the Florida jail are: Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and Addicted to Christ – all run by faith-based organizations such as the Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous.

In response to the letter, the sheriff did not deny that all substance abuse programs offered were faith-based. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, a member of the Sarasota-Manatee AU board, in a published letter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, has called on the “community and appropriate government officials to investigate and facilitate reform at the jail with regard to these policies.”

She wrote, “[A]n inmate who is addicted to drugs or alcohol and does not want to take part in a program with religious overtones is foreclosed from participating in a substance abuse program for the period of his or her incarceration, which could be up to a year, without being indoctrinated in religious teachings.”