The Secular Recovery Bill (A.8163/S.7313) is a life-saving bill. It would ensure that atheists and religious minorities in court-ordered rehab programs can recover, without religion forced on them.

But now Governor Hochul is threatening to veto this legislation. We must encourage her to protect New Yorkers from attacks on their religious freedom when they’re at their most vulnerable.
Contact Governor Hochul immediately and ask her to sign the Secular Recovery Bill.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

It’s hard enough to recover from addiction. But to do so while being forced to take part in religious activities you want nothing to do with can be unbearable. And your recovery would be even harder—and may never happen.

If Governor Hochul fails to sign this legislation, atheists and religious minorities will continue to be at risk. Their recovery, their lives themselves are on the line.

As a New York resident, you can help persuade Governor Hochul to take this life-or-death issue seriously.

Help pass this critical bill into law—tell Governor Hochul to sign the Secular Recovery Bill!

Sincerely,

Brittany Williams
State Policy Counsel
American Atheists


See bill vetoed blog post for updated details.


Secular Recovery Bill
2021-2022 Legislative Session

Requires written notice to a defendant of his or her right to complete court ordered alcohol or substance use treatment in a nonreligious treatment program.

Assembly Bill A8163A
Sponsored by Epstein, Richard Gottfried, Phil Steck

SPONSOR MEMO

A08163 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  BILL NUMBER: A8163A SPONSOR: Epstein
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law and the penal law, in relation to requiring written notice to a defendant of his or her right to complete court ordered alcohol or substance use treatment in a nonre- ligious treatment program   PURPOSE: To ensure eligible defendants mandated to attend a substance use treat- ment program are informed of their right to request a nonreligious option   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends section 216.00 of the criminal procedure law to add a new subdivision 3 to define treatment Section 2 amends subdivision 5 of section 216.05 of the criminal proce- dure law to establish a process for the court to determine whether a defendant set to be mandated to attend a substance use treatment program has an objection to any religious element of that program and for the court to identify a nonreligious alternative if the defendant has such an objection Section 3 amends paragraph (e) of subdivision 2 of section 65.10 of the penal law to establish the process outlined above for probationers Section 4 provides the effective date   JUSTIFICATION: Courts have repeatedly recognized the rights of defendants mandated to attend a substance use treatment program to attend a nonreligious program if they object to the religious components of a faith-based program. Yet, there is no statutory requirement for the court to inform an eligible defendant of his or her right to seek treatment in a nonre- ligious program. Without clear direction, the state remains vulnerable to costly lawsuits brought by defendants seeking to enforce their constitutional rights. Furthermore, it should be a priority of the court to ensure that a defendant's treatment matches their preferences so they can actually benefit from the treatment. This legislation establishes a clear proc- ess by which the court would ascertain whether a defendant set to be mandated to attend a substance use treatment program has an objection to any religious element of such a program and requires the court to iden- tify an alternative.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Potential to provide savings to the state by limiting liability for court and prison personnel.   EFFECTIVE DATE: 60 days after becoming law

A8163A (ACTIVE) – BILL TEXT

A08163 Text:

 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                         8163--A
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                      July 7, 2021
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by  M.  of  A.  EPSTEIN,  GOTTFRIED,  STECK -- read once and
          referred to the Committee on Codes -- recommitted to the Committee  on
          Codes  in  accordance  with  Assembly  Rule  3,  sec.  2  -- committee
          discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
          to said committee

        AN ACT to amend the  criminal  procedure  law  and  the  penal  law,  in
          relation  to  requiring  written  notice  to a defendant of his or her
          right to complete court ordered alcohol or substance use treatment  in
          a nonreligious treatment program
 
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1.  Section 216.00 of the criminal procedure law is amended by
     2  adding a new subdivision 3 to read as follows:
     3    3. "Treatment" means any alcohol or substance use recovery program  or
     4  programs,  which  may  include detoxification, medically assisted treat-
     5  ment, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, and recovery-oriented
     6  care and recovery support, including peer-based support.
     7    § 2. Subdivision 5 of section 216.05 of the criminal procedure law, as
     8  amended by chapter 435 of the laws  of  2021,  is  amended  to  read  as
     9  follows:
    10    5.  (a) The defendant shall agree on the record or in writing to abide
    11  by the release conditions  set  by  the  court,  which,  shall  include:
    12  participation  in  a specified period of alcohol or substance use treat-
    13  ment at a specified program or programs identified by the  court,  which
    14  may  include periods of detoxification, residential or outpatient treat-
    15  ment, or both, as determined after taking into account the views of  the
    16  health  care  professional  who  conducted the alcohol and substance use
    17  evaluation and any health care professionals responsible  for  providing
    18  such treatment or monitoring the defendant's progress in such treatment;
    19  and may include: (i) periodic court appearances, which may include peri-
    20  odic  urinalysis;  (ii)  a  requirement  that the defendant refrain from
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD10891-04-2
        A. 8163--A                          2
 
     1  engaging in criminal behaviors; (iii) if the defendant  needs  treatment
     2  for  opioid use, that he or she may participate in and receive medically
     3  prescribed drug treatments under the care of a health care  professional
     4  licensed  or  certified  under  title eight of the education law, acting
     5  within his or her lawful scope of practice, provided that no court shall
     6  require the use of any specified type or brand of drug during the course
     7  of medically prescribed drug treatments.
     8    (b) Prior to specifying an alcohol or substance use program, the court
     9  shall inquire, on the record, whether the defendant has an objection  to
    10  any  religious  element  of  that program. If the defendant objects to a
    11  religious element of the program, the court shall identify  an  alterna-
    12  tive  equivalent  program  to  which  the  defendant  has  no  religious
    13  objection, and the defendant shall confirm on the record.
    14    § 3. Paragraph (e) of subdivision 2 of section 65.10 of the penal law,
    15  as amended by chapter 742 of the laws of 1981, is  amended  to  read  as
    16  follows:
    17    (e)  Participate  in an alcohol or substance [abuse] use program or an
    18  intervention program approved by the court after consultation  with  the
    19  local  probation department having jurisdiction, or such other public or
    20  private agency as the court determines to be  appropriate,  except  that
    21  the  court  shall first determine whether the defendant has an objection
    22  to any religious element of that program. If the defendant objects to  a
    23  religious element of the program, the court shall approve an alternative
    24  equivalent program to which the defendant has no religious objection;
    25    §  4.  This  act  shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall
    26  have become a law.

Senate Bill S7313A
Sponsored by Pete Harckham (D,WF-40), James Gaughran (D-5), Liz Krueger (D,WF-26)

SPONSOR MEMO

BILL NUMBER: S7313A

SPONSOR: HARCKHAM
 
TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the criminal procedure law and the penal law, in
relation to requiring written notice to a defendant of his or her right
to complete court ordered alcohol or substance use treatment in a nonre-
ligious treatment program

 
PURPOSE:

To ensure eligible defendants mandated to attend a substance use treat-
ment program are informed of their right to request a nonreligious
option

 
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends section 216.00 of the criminal procedure law to add a
new subdivision 3 to define treatment

Section 2 amends subdivision 5 of section 216.05 of the criminal proce-
dure law to establish a process for the court to determine whether a
defendant set to be mandated to attend a substance use treatment program
has an objection to any religious element of that program and for the
court to identify a nonreligious alternative if the defendant has such
an objection

Section 3 amends paragraph (e) of subdivision 2 of section 65.10 of the
penal law to establish the process outlined above for probationers

Section 4 provides the effective date

 
JUSTIFICATION:

Courts have repeatedly recognized the rights of defendants mandated to
attend a substance use treatment program to attend a nonreligious
program if they object to the religious components of a faith-based
program. Yet, there is no statutory requirement for the court to inform
an eligible defendant of his or her right to seek treatment in a nonre-
ligious program. Without clear direction, the state remains vulnerable
to costly lawsuits brought by defendants seeking to enforce their
constitutional rights.  Furthermore, it should be a priority of the
court to ensure that a defendant's treatment matches their preferences
so they can actually benefit from the treatment.

This legislation establishes a clear process by which the court would
ascertain whether a defendant set to be mandated to attend a substance
use treatment program has an objection to any religious element of such
a program and requires the court to identify an alternative.

 
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

New bill

 
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

Potential to provide savings to the state by limiting liability for
court and prison personnel.
 
EFFECTIVE DATE:
60 days after becoming law

S7313A (ACTIVE) – BILL TEXT

                     S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
 ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                  7313--A
 
                        2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                             I N  S E N A T E
 
                              August 4, 2021
                                ___________
 
 Introduced  by  Sens.  HARCKHAM,  GAUGHRAN,  KRUEGER  --  read twice and
   ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee  on
   Rules  --  recommitted  to  the  Committee on Alcoholism and Substance
   Abuse  in  accordance  with  Senate  Rule  6,  sec.  8  --   committee
   discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
   to said committee
 
 AN  ACT  to  amend  the  criminal  procedure  law  and the penal law, in
   relation to requiring written notice to a  defendant  of  his  or  her
   right  to complete court ordered alcohol or substance use treatment in
   a nonreligious treatment program
 
   THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
 BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
 
   Section 1.  Section 216.00 of the criminal procedure law is amended by
 adding a new subdivision 3 to read as follows:
   3.  "TREATMENT" MEANS ANY ALCOHOL OR SUBSTANCE USE RECOVERY PROGRAM OR
 PROGRAMS, WHICH MAY INCLUDE DETOXIFICATION,  MEDICALLY  ASSISTED  TREAT-
 MENT, RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT, OUTPATIENT TREATMENT, AND RECOVERY-ORIENTED
 CARE AND RECOVERY SUPPORT, INCLUDING PEER-BASED SUPPORT.
   § 2. Subdivision 5 of section 216.05 of the criminal procedure law, as
 amended  by  chapter  435  of  the  laws  of 2021, is amended to read as
 follows:
   5. (A) The defendant shall agree on the record or in writing to  abide
 by  the  release  conditions  set  by  the  court, which, shall include:
 participation in a specified period of alcohol or substance  use  treat-
 ment  at  a specified program or programs identified by the court, which
 may include periods of detoxification, residential or outpatient  treat-
 ment,  or both, as determined after taking into account the views of the
 health care professional who conducted the  alcohol  and  substance  use
 evaluation  and  any health care professionals responsible for providing
 such treatment or monitoring the defendant's progress in such treatment;
 and may include: (i) periodic court appearances, which may include peri-
 
  EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                       [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                            LBD10891-05-2
 S. 7313--A                          2
 
 odic urinalysis; (ii) a requirement  that  the  defendant  refrain  from
 engaging  in  criminal behaviors; (iii) if the defendant needs treatment
 for opioid use, that he or she may participate in and receive  medically
 prescribed  drug treatments under the care of a health care professional
 licensed or certified under title eight of  the  education  law,  acting
 within his or her lawful scope of practice, provided that no court shall
 require the use of any specified type or brand of drug during the course
 of medically prescribed drug treatments.
   (B) PRIOR TO SPECIFYING AN ALCOHOL OR SUBSTANCE USE PROGRAM, THE COURT
 SHALL  INQUIRE, ON THE RECORD, WHETHER THE DEFENDANT HAS AN OBJECTION TO
 ANY RELIGIOUS ELEMENT OF THAT PROGRAM. IF THE  DEFENDANT  OBJECTS  TO  A
 RELIGIOUS  ELEMENT  OF THE PROGRAM, THE COURT SHALL IDENTIFY AN ALTERNA-
 TIVE  EQUIVALENT  PROGRAM  TO  WHICH  THE  DEFENDANT  HAS  NO  RELIGIOUS
 OBJECTION, AND THE DEFENDANT SHALL CONFIRM ON THE RECORD.
   § 3. Paragraph (e) of subdivision 2 of section 65.10 of the penal law,
 as  amended  by  chapter  742 of the laws of 1981, is amended to read as
 follows:
   (e) Participate in an alcohol or substance [abuse] USE program  or  an
 intervention  program  approved by the court after consultation with the
 local probation department having jurisdiction, or such other public  or
 private  agency  as  the court determines to be appropriate, EXCEPT THAT
 THE COURT SHALL FIRST DETERMINE WHETHER THE DEFENDANT HAS  AN  OBJECTION
 TO  ANY RELIGIOUS ELEMENT OF THAT PROGRAM. IF THE DEFENDANT OBJECTS TO A
 RELIGIOUS ELEMENT OF THE PROGRAM, THE COURT SHALL APPROVE AN ALTERNATIVE
 EQUIVALENT PROGRAM TO WHICH THE DEFENDANT HAS NO RELIGIOUS OBJECTION;
   § 4. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth  day  after  it  shall
 have become a law.
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