Scientology Rehab: Guinn's office not interested

GOP assemblywoman says legislators still going to see Mexican prison's drug program

Review-Journal Capital Bureau/February 15, 2003
By Ed Vogel

Carson City -- The governor's office wants nothing to do with a Republican assemblywoman's plan to have female inmates submit to a drug rehabilitation program developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, a spokesman said Friday.

Greg Bortolin, press secretary to Gov. Kenny Guinn, said the administration is "moving in another direction" in its inmate drug rehabilitation efforts.

He added that neither Corrections Director Jackie Crawford nor any members of her staff will take additional trips to an Ensenada, Mexico, prison to review the controversial drug rehabilitation program that uses sauna and massage treatment.

The Arizona state government rejected the program last year because of its $15,000-per-inmate cost and because program sponsors did not track participants once they left prison.

Crawford said there is merit to the Second Chance Program used in the Mexican prison, but not necessarily more than other drug rehabilitation programs. She said she took a free trip to the Mexican prison because Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno, requested she see the program.

Angle insisted "raw partisanship" is the real reason why Democrats have rejected an examination of the Hubbard program. She said Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, has been inducing legislators to reject the program without looking at its merits.

Guinn, however, is a Republican. Until she hears otherwise from Crawford, Angle said she believes the administration may be convinced to offer the program to Nevada inmates.

Angle added "more than a few" legislators will fly to Mexico March 1 on a day trip to see the rehabilitation program. The trip is being paid for by philanthropist Russell Suggs.

She also declined to identify legislators who will take the trip, saying she doesn't have an accurate count. But Angle acknowledged that none of the 23 Democrats in the 42-member Assembly will make the trip.

"I had Democrats attending until she (Buckley) began this partisan move," Angle said.

Angle said federal and private grants are available to cover the expected $1.5 million cost to treat 500 Nevada inmates.

Despite comments made during Arizona legislative hearings that participants were not tracked after leaving prison, Angle contended only 10 percent of inmates who participate in the program end up returning to prison.

Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, said the controversy over whether legislators should take the trip is "a bunch of hullabaloo over nothing."

"What's the big deal?" he asked. "Sure some will go on a Saturday on a trip that is not being paid by taxpayers."

While parts of the program were developed by Hubbard, Angle said his religion now has nothing to do with the program.

"I don't have any inclination toward Scientology," she added. "But when something works, you have to take a look at it."

The Church of Scientology touts the benefits of the Second Chance Program, which it calls Narconon, on its Web site. Hubbard died in 1986 at the age of 75.

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