The state of Tennessee last month agreed to a settlement of $45,948, plus up to $35,000 in attorneys’ fees, in a suit that was brought by an employee of a state corrections agency who complained that the program he was required to teach to inmates was heavily religious. The program was based on the book This Ain’t No Practice Life by Michael Burt  Also under the agreement, the employee will leave the agency next June. (Full text of settlement agreement).  The agreement followed a federal district court’s entering of a preliminary injunction in favor of the employee last February.  In Baker v. State of Tennessee, (MD TN, Feb. 17, 2017), the court, finding a strong likelihood of an Establishment Clause violation, said:The fact that the Coaching Program as a whole may have a secular purpose of rehabilitating TDOC inmates and preparing them for release and reentry does not mitigate the fact that there is likely no secular purpose to the inclusion of religious-based content in the Coaching Program’s materials.Reporting on the settlement, WSMV News adds that the challenged program, which has now been canceled, cost the state $300,000 to implement.



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