and the State insists too!! Missions are often used by the State as proof of having shelter for houseless people. Ain’t gonna fly.
Inmate Challenges Mission Requisite
He claims having to live at the Eugene Mission violated his rights
By Karen McCowan
A Eugene man serving time in a state prison for theft and drug possession has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Lane County parole officers violated his civil rights by requiring him to live at the Eugene Mission after his October 2006 release from prison in another case.
Court records show that Jason Dwain Davies, 32, was most recently convicted June 28, 2008, on two felony counts of possessing methamphetamine and one count of identity theft. They also show that he was sentenced in September 2005 to six months in prison with one-year of post-prison supervision after pleading guilty to identity theft, drug possession and resisting arrest in a July 2005 incident.
According to his federal lawsuit, Lane County violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state clause by requiring him to reside in a “fundamentally religious facility” while under supervision of parole and probation officers.
He seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring the county from imposing the same requirement as a condition of remaining at liberty in the future.
Joan Copperwheat, the county’s director of parole and probation services, said she could not comment on an unresolved lawsuit.
In his complaint, filed by attorney Joseph Connelly, Davies alleges that the county cannot legally require someone on post-prison supervision to live at the mission — which provides food and beds to area homeless people — because it requires residents to attend daily gospel services.
Connelly said Davies seeks monetary damages because he was jailed a total of 319 days between December 2006 and March 2008 for refusing to stay at the mission on various occasions. The suit cites his loss of liberty, employment and the ability to visit his daughter.
According to the complaint, parole and probation supervisor Susan McFarland at one point told Davies to “cover his ears during the gospel service if he did not want to listen.”
Copperwheat said the parole and probation department cannot tell people they have to live at the Eugene Mission, but can require them to have a department-approved residence. The only other free living spaces, she said, are the Sponsors post-prison program and some recovery houses for inmates with substance abuse problems. Those places often are full and have waiting lists, she said.
Copperwheat said she could not recall a similar lawsuit regarding the Eugene Mission. But she noted that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2007 that parolees cannot be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a condition of their release because the organization contains a religious component.