Nevada Assemblywoman reveals trip sponsor

Associated Press/February 12, 2003

An Arizona businessman was identified Wednesday as the person paying for a quick trip to Mexico so Nevada lawmakers can see a prison drug treatment program developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno, said Russell Suggs is underwriting the one-day fact-finding mission, and he only grudgingly agreed to let Angle reveal his name.

"He is approached not only by non-profits, but politicians as well,"Angle said."And he doesn't like his name spread around, but he would let it go if it would help me and the Second Chance Program."

Suggs also has seen Ensenada State Prison in Mexico, where the alternative treatment program has been operating since 1995, and was impressed with its results, Angle said.

Suggs is a philanthropist concerned about prison recidivism, Angle said, adding,"He saw what I saw. It works."

Nevada Department of Corrections Director Jackie Crawford will be taking her second tour of the prison on the March 1 trip. She said she was impressed by the Second Chance Program after the first time through.

Angle reserved 35 seats for the trip, and hopes to extend the deadline for reservations, which was supposed to be Wednesday afternoon. She said media scrutiny had some legislators shying away from the trip.

"It would be hard for them to just take my word, or Director Crawford's word ... but the more people who get to see it for themselves the better,"Angle said.

The Second Chance Program detoxifies inmates by administering vitamin and mineral supplements, massage and sauna treatments to drain the body of drug residue, according to the program's brochure.

The program then includes an education component, followed by a self-respect component based on Hubbard's text"The Way to Happiness". The self-respect module also includes one-on-one interviews with a guidance counselor.

The program ends with a life skills component, training inmates on how to evaluate other people and how to change unwanted conditions of their lives. Inmates are then expected to take the program back into their communities upon their release.

The program claims a 10 percent recidivism rate for inmates participating in the program.

The Second Chance Program is licensed by the criminal rehabilitation group Criminon International, part of NARCONON International, a drug rehabilitation program. Both groups employ Hubbard's teachings in their efforts.

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