In faith-based test case, appeals court upholds Wisconsin halfway house aid

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2003

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin can continue providing taxpayer money for a faith-based halfway house in Milwaukee that provides 24-hour supervised residential care, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled against a lawsuit by Madison's Freedom From Religion Foundation arguing that state aid is unconstitutional.

Probation and parole agents refer offenders to the Faith Works halfway house as an alternative to prison. Residents are enrolled in such programs as parenting and marriage counseling so they can successfully reunite with their families.

Faith Works offers nine months of residential treatment, compared with 90 days at secular halfway houses under state contract.

The appeals court said offenders are told the residence is religious, and that they have other options, but many offenders choose Faith Works.

If recommending a religious institution constituted an establishment of religion, a public school guidance counselor could not recommend that a student apply to a Catholic college'' that is a student's best choice, the court stated.

Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said it is bad treatment to tell addicted men their addiction results from 'sin' and belief in 'Christ' is the solution.''

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