Amethyst House is still requiring AA attendance in violation of State and Federal Law

A reader posted the recent comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Amethyst Foundation, Inc.: Actual Consumer Review...":

I've been dealing with this for 9 months now and this is my first DUI with no history of alcohol or other abuse. Initially I went to my screening and was told that it's not pre determined that I'll need an evaluation which costs $200. So I filled out the first form. The second form was all about my financal status and standing. After filling that out the woman took it out back to enter the info and gave me the third form. When she came back out she said I would be required to do an evaluation. I kept my mouth shut, but seriously? I haven't even done the screening questionaire, only the general info and financial paperwork. A week later I did my evaluation and was given 9 weeks of after care and 6 self help sessions to go to AA. I completed the weekend course, my 9 after care sessions, my 6 AA meetings and I'm still waiting on Amethyst to send the paperwork to the DMV. I've called a few times and they Ssay that I've got to wait 3 more months, each time I call they say this. The Court initialaly said 9 month loss of license with eligibility to get it back after 90 days and the completion of the program. Now I have another hearing with the dept of safety to see if I need a breathalizer installed in my vehicle when I get my license back because amethyst turned my paperwork over to them. This is my first DUI!!!! and I have a clean record.
This foundation is awful to deal with and whatever you do don't get upset with them or you will end up with anger management classes as well. Just ask the 2 guys in my weekend course.
Oh and AA??? Absolutely a religious organization. I went to 6 meetings. 4 dealt entirely with peoples discussions with god.
So, despite the NH legislature expressly forbidding AA attendance in a recently enacted law, Amethyst continues to force people to go to AA and partake in religious activity.

I broke the law.  Fine me, imprison me, take my license away--just don't force your religion on me.

WMUR Story on Amethyst's Abuses?

A reader posted the following on Forced Worship:

"i have had it with this foundation i have contacted the tv station wmur and i want to talk to everyone who has or had problems with these people, not on the computer where they can see im dead serious on taking them to court a robert kelly and kim think they are god, i despise these so called people who think they can run our lives and call us alcholics when they never even met me or spoke to me people please contact asap at 423 453 0102 asap leave message if i dont answer ill get back to u after work i need to hear fron you soon as the tv station wants to get on this soon thanks debbie"

I'd love to talk to reporters at WMUR!  Also, I invite everyone willing to speak out against Amethyst to join.  They have been abusing their authority for too long!

Now is your chance to do something.  Seize the moment.

Forced Worship now at 20,000 hits

The hits keep coming at Forced Worship.  I'm happy that readers are finding this content useful!

I'm not so happy to hear reports that Amethyst is still ordering people to go to AA and otherwise abusing their authority.  This is now against the law!

Contact the Governor's Office and/or Director Harding.

Newly updated New Hampshire State Law Forbids AA Requirement for IDIP Aftercare

Good news! Amethyst Foundation, Inc., and other NH IDCMPs can no longer require AA or any other type of religious or spiritual-based program if a "client" objects:

Under section: He-A 507.04 Service Plan Development, in effect as of January 1, 2013:
(i) IDCMPs may include in a client’s service plan a recommendation for, but
shall not require, the client to participate nor make participation a
requirement of program completion, in any 12-step program or any type of
religious or spiritual based program if the client raises any objection at
any time to participating in such a program.

If you are told to attend AA as part of your aftercare requirement, tell them "no" and you will not have to. If religion is part of any non-AA program, simply raise an objection, and you will not have to continue attending such a program as part of your aftercare requirement.

What if Amethyst Foundation responds to your objection by telling you that you are free to attend any self-help group you can locate? They said this to me, knowing full well that only AA was available in New Hampshire and that I would have to travel, without a license, to Massachusetts to attend an alternative, non-religious program such as Rational Recovery or SMART Recovery.

Having to go out-of-state to attend a non-religious self-help group as an alternative to AA will now be considered an "undue burden." You cannot be required to go to Massachusetts to attend a non-AA self-help group.  (AA is still the only self-help group available in the State of New Hampshire.)
To ensure compliance, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has implemented
comprehensive oversight measures, including inspection of records, participant feedback, and undercover IDIP participants. Both IDCMPs like Amethyst Foundation and LADCs performing aftercare will be monitored.

There still exist tough penalties for being found guilty of a DWI offense, but at least forced religious indoctrination will no longer be one of them.

Here's where to complain about Amethyst Foundation, Inc.'s abuses

I've put quite a lot of effort into writing this blog. I hope it's been helpful. Judging by your visits, it has. This blog has nearly 12,000 total hits now, with an average of over 30 hits a day.  Obviously, many of you have gone through what I did and are likely as infuriated as I was.

I've also contacted several government officials and legislators, as well as civil rights organizations. I've done all I can: now it's your turn.  Change will not happen unless you make your voice heard. Only by voicing your complaints will Amethyst Foundation, Inc. be held accountable. Your silence will assure that they continue to abuse their power with impunity, and that others will suffer.

These are the people you should send your complaints to:

Governor Margaret Wood Hassan
Office of the Governor
State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
(603)271-2121 (phone)
(603)271-7640 (fax)

Director Joseph P. Harding
State of NH Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Community Based Care Services
Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services
105 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
(603)271-6110 (phone)
(603)271-6105 (fax)

Don't bother sending your complaints to Amethyst or the Department of Safety--they will not care.

If you don't complain, nothing will be done. Amethyst Foundation's abuses will continue. And, believe me, both former Governor Lynch and Director Harding are aware of these abuses. In fact, they've had to step in before to stop them. I contacted them and got my license reinstated within two weeks (Amethyst was trying to permanently revoke it, even after I had successfully completed all of my assigned aftercare.)

I'll maintain this blog with updates. In the meanwhile, good luck to all of you.


NH House panel backs bill further punishing DWI arrestees

I recently found this article by Ted Siefer, the Union Leader's State House Bureau correspondent:
CONCORD – Repeat drunk drivers could be required to use an ignition interlock device when their driving privileges are restored under a bill backed unanimously by a House committee.

The House Transportation Committee voted 10-0 Tuesday to endorse Senate Bill 282, which was passed by the Senate in February.

The bill would allow the Commissioner of Safety to request an administrative hearing before returning the driver’s license or driving privileges to anyone who was convicted for drunk driving, aggravated drunk driving, reckless driving that involved alcohol, negligent homicide that resulted from drunken driving, or being a habitual drunk driver.

Under the bill, offenders could be required to use either a standard interlock or “enhanced” device, which takes a photo when users breathe into it, for a period of one to two years.

The bill is one of several being pushed by the Department of Safety this session in an effort to crack down on repeat drunk driving. Last month the Senate passed a House-passed bill, HB 482, which would require anyone who tries to circumvent an interlock device to use the enhanced device and face other penalties.

A full House vote on SB 282 has not yet been scheduled.

 Here's the official version of the proposed bill:

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT authorizing the commissioner of safety to require the installation of an ignition interlock device as a condition of restoring driving privileges in certain instances.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Section; Department of Safety Authority to Order Ignition Interlock Device Installation. Amend RSA 265-A by inserting after section 36 the following new section:
265-A:36-a Department of Safety Authority to Order Ignition Interlock Device Installation. The commissioner of safety may require an administrative hearing prior to the restoration of the license or driving privilege of a person whose license or driving privilege was revoked or suspended as the result of a conviction of any offense under RSA 265-A:45, RSA 265-A:2, RSA 265-A:3, RSA 265:79-a where alcohol was involved, RSA 262:19, or RSA 630:3, II, and, upon a finding that the safety of the person and of other users of the highways would be enhanced thereby, may order the person, as a condition of restoration of his or her license or driving privilege, to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle registered to that person or used by that person, for not less than 12 months nor more than 2 years, subject to the same conditions and prohibitions as if the interlock was ordered by a court under the provisions of this subdivision.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2013.
(Note that this bill says nothing about "repeat offenders."  The Union Leader is the worst example of "journalism" I've ever encountered.  It's usually rife with factual, spelling, and typographical errors.)

I lost my driving privileges, due to a 1st Offense DUI in NH, for almost a year.  This was mainly due to the holy rollers at Amethyst Foundation punishing me for my "willfulness" (their actual words) in objecting to being forced to go to religious AA meetings.  During this period, I spent thousands on car rides to and from work (and mandated AA meetings). 

Bill 282 now provides additional hoops to jump through once you complete your aftercare:  an administrative hearing.  Administrative hearings, as I have posted before, are dangerous.  Unlike a criminal or civil court proceeding, administrative hearings do not afford the defendant much in the way of procedural protections.  Administrative hearings, in the name of judicial expediency and efficiency, often make quick, cursory, and subjective determinations.  See my previous post entitled:  "16 Red Flag Hearings: 14 Affirmed, 0 Reversed, 2 Remanded "

While restoring driving privileges on the condition that an ignition interlock device sounds reasonable (I would have gladly done this if it meant I could drive to work), it will likely open the door to further administrative requirements such as more aftercare being assigned, extra fees, and extended suspensions of driving privileges.  I see nothing in this bill that would restrain the administrative judges from doing this.

Further, ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are quite expensive.  In California the average cost for an IID is about $2.50 per day. Some companies additionally charge around $75-$100 for installation. You will also need to pay fees approaching $100 each month for the maintenance and calibration of your ignition interlock device.  Additionally, you will need to apply, and pay the fee, for a special IID license.  So, under NH Bill 282, the minimum one year IID could cost you around $1,300.

All this for a 1st Offense DUI, and after you complete your aftercare.  Again, my concern is that once forced into the administrative court hearing, you are relatively helpless to the whims of administrative judges, who, in the past, have not shown much leniency (or fairness, in my opinion).

A fairer version of this bill would allow the use of IIDs during the suspension period. Unless you live in Manchester or Concord, there is no public transportation.  Private rides cost $50-100, each.  Drivers on Craigslist are unreliable and sometimes dangerous.  Many people lose their jobs because they cannot afford this expense.  That's too harsh a penalty.

Not to the people at Amethyst Foundation, though, who will take glee in your suffering.  They are all former drunks who had to go through the same punishment, and will love to make you go through it, too.  Maybe, I'm sure they hope, you'll become a born-again Christian in the process, too.

Forced Worship reaches 7,000 hits

Forced Worship has reached 7,000 hits.  While I am happy that this blog is being found useful, I am disturbed that there remains such a need for it.

Please feel free to look at some of my earlier posts for an understanding of what you need to do to get your driving privileges back.  The licensed alcohol and drug counselors (LADCs) who determine whether or not you deserve this believe the standard AA religious pseudo-science:
  • you have a disease called "alcoholism"
  • the cure is to admit this and ask for God's help ("hit your knees")
  • this cure requires nothing less than the complete abstention from alcohol

This is what places like Amethyst Foundation, Inc., and those that work in the recovery industry, want from you.  We all know how deluded this is.  The crime for what you've been arrested is for driving while impaired, not being impaired.  It is not against the law to consume alcohol.

Go along with this charade and do your best job at acting to make them believe you.  Do not show any sign of "willfulness," intelligence, or independent thought.  AA is a cult, and these AA-trained LADCs want mindless, subservient, stupid followers to recruit. Pretend that you are one of the "pigeons" they want.

Otherwise, they will punish you by assigning perpetual, expensive "aftercare," and, perhaps like me, an attempt to permanently revoke your driving privileges (despite it having been only a 1st Offense DWI).

Be very careful until you get your license back.  Good luck.

Amethyst Foundation, Inc.'s 2010 IRS Form 990 -- More of the $ame

I've previously posted on the outrageous amount of money Amethyst Foundation, Inc., brings in, all tax-free.

Well, their IRS Form 990 for 2010 is now available and shows more of the same:
  • a whopping total revenue of $1,165,753.00, of which $1,161,774.00 is entirely program service revenue from the state.
And, apparently, Amethyst Foundation, Inc., operated in the red last year, with expenses of $1,185,201, including:
  • $557,353 in wages (!)  Really?
  • $76,623 for Director Bob Kelley's salary
  • $35,476 for office supplies (!!)  I saw one old HP inkjet printer when I was there.
  •  $109,868 for "all other expenses." 
And if you buy that, I have some swampland in Florida I'd like to sell you.

My Post to the Ripoff Report on Amethyst Foundation, Inc.

I'm not sure why I waited this long, but I finally got around to posting my experience with Amethyst  Foundation, Inc., on the RipOff Report website:

Several years ago, the state of NH privatized its impaired driver intervention programs, or IDIPs.  They are now all run by private organizations, of which Amethyst Foundation, Inc (aka "Amethyst House") is the largest.  Supposedly a "non-profit," Amethyst Foundation, Inc., nets well over a million dollars a year, all of which is tax-free.  They list one employee, Bob Kelley, on their IRS statements.  NH law mandates that you go to the closest organization, which for most people in the state means going to Amethyst Foundation.  They have a virtual monopoly.  Additionally, to ensure that the "customers" continue to roll in, Amethyst Foundation employs several experienced, influential lobbyists that apply pressure on NH State Representatives to maintain strict penalties for DUIs.  Bob Kelley has a sweet scam going, and it's all legal.

I admittedly made a huge blunder resulting in a 1st Offense DUI.  Though I had already paid large court and administrative fines, I was resigned to doing the IDIP program which met once a week for four weeks.  I was not prepared for what I would encounter there.

Most of the people that work at Amethyst Foundation, almost without exception, seemed bitter with the hand that life had dealt them, had a hateful, puritanical streak, treated clients like garbage, and were all too happy to exact punishment for the slightest infraction.  I suspect that most were former heavy alcoholics who had gone through the highly religious Alcoholics Anonymous program to stop drinking (they "hit their knees" in AA-speak, found god, and got dry).  I suspect that their cognitive abilities were affected by their past alcoholism, rendering them absolutely incompetent at their jobs.  I was pressured from day one, and throughout the IDIP program, to attend AA and get a sponsor. 

I told them that AA has been ruled by both Federal and State Courts to be a religious organization for purposes of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.  Despite this, and the fact that this was my first DUI, they assigned six months of twice weekly mandatory attendance at AA meetings.  At each meeting, I was pressured to pray, listen to these people's ignorant, holier-than-thou, pseudoscience rantings based on the Big Book written by Bill W. (really, the radical puritan/evangelical Oxford group--google it).  At the end of every meeting, members hold hands and recite the Lord's Prayer.  Nonbelievers are treated with contempt, scorn, and pity--this was perhaps the most egregious of the insults.

I complained in writing, sent certified/return receipt requested, to Amethyst Foundation, Inc. throughout this procedure.  Most of my letters were ignored.  The responses I got dripped with contempt.  Mr. Kelley went so far as to even attempt to mislead me over the phone into exhausting my one administrative hearing so that I wouldn't have another one for a year.

In addition to attending AA meetings, I also had to see a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor, or LDAC, weekly, for four to six months.  This person was also a hard-core AA true believer.  These meetings consisted of him, not trying to help me with any supposed alcohol problems, but with trying to convince of god's existence and how wonderful AA is.  I had to pay him for this privilege.

The LDAC told me that Amethyst Foundation, Inc., punishes people who complain by taking their licenses away permanently or effectively doing so by ordering extensive aftercare.  When I completed my initial aftercare of AA and LDAC meetings, I received a notice from the Department of Safety of an Administrative Hearing requested by Amethyst Foundation to permanently revoke my license.  This occured despite the fact the I attended, with verification, all required AA meetings, and obtained a positive evaluation by my LDAC.

Luckily, I had written to the Governor several weeks prior, whose staff then contacted the Head of the NH Dept of Health and Human Services.  I updated the Governor's staff on what Amethyst Foundation had done.  The NH Dept of HHS then reprimanded Mr. Kelley, including sending him a written notice that mandating AA attendance was illegal.  I got my license back within a week.

Supposedly, Amethyst Foundation has been ordered to stop all aftercare self help group attendance.  I doubt that they will do this.  The staff there are on a religious mission to save people by getting them to go to AA.  They are really religious prohibitionists that want to eliminate all alcohol use, not just merely prevent future DUIs.  History has shown that you cannot stop religious zealots.

Surprisingly, I'm really not angry at what happened.  I'm more saddened and disappointed that in this day and age such backward religious zealots can still do such harm.  I thought that we, as a country that so highly values individual rights and freedoms, had moved beyond that long ago.  Ironically, this occurred in NH, the "live free or die" state.  How hypocritical and ignorant some NH residents are.

Forced Worship Reaches 5,000 Hits

Visits to this website have reached over 5,000!

Lots of people are, apparently, still being assigned attendance at AA meetings as part of "aftercare" by Amethyst Foundation, Inc.  If this has happened to you, please note that:

Several Federal District Courts and State Courts, including the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, have ruled AA to be a "religious organization" for purposes of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  Coerced attendance at AA as part of your aftercare is illegal.

Amethyst Foundation, Inc., will often try to direct you to attend a "self-help" group as part of your aftercare, knowing full well that the only self-help groups available in the state of New Hampshire are AA.  They will then respond to your complaints by stating that "you are not being required to attend AA and are free to attend any self-help group you can find."

Should this happen, immediately inform Amethyst Foundation, Inc., the Governor of New Hampshire, and the Director of the State of New Hampshire Dept of Health and Human Services in writing, by certified mail/return receipt requested.  This should solve your problem.

In the unlikely event that this does not provide relief, file, pro se,  for a preliminary injunction in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

There is no reason to attend AA or any type of self-group as part of your "aftercare."  Yes, it was wrong to drive with a BAC over the legal limit.  But that does not justify your being punished by the religious zealots of Amethyst Foundation, Inc., REAP, Serenity House, and others of the "recovery industry" with forced participation at cult-like, religious AA meetings.