Oregon Inmate Sues to Not Live in a Mission

Friday, June 05, 2009

A convicted drug offender who was forced to live in a religious-oriented facility is suing a county in Oregon, claiming his civil rights were violated. Jason Dwain Davies is arguing in his lawsuit against Lane County that officials violated the Constitution’s separation of church and state clause by making him reside in a “fundamentally religious facility” while on probation.

Davies was sentenced in September 2005 to six months in prison and one year of post-prison supervision after he pled guilty to identity theft, drug possession and resisting arrest. His time on probation was supposed to be spent at the Eugene Mission, which is supported by the Eugene Christian Fellowship, which believes that “Apart from Jesus Christ, all people are spiritually lost and, because of sin, deserve the judgment of God.” The mission required residents to attend daily gospel services. When Davies complained about the religious program, his parole officer allegedly told him to “cover his ears during the gospel service if he did not want to listen.”
Davies wound up spending an additional 319 days in jail because he refused to stay at the mission. He is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring Lane County from imposing the mission requirement in the future. Since his 2005 conviction, Davies was arrested again in June 2008 for methamphetamine possession and identity theft.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Inmate Challenges Mission Requisite (by Karen McCowan, Eugene OR Register-Guard)


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