Several years ago, the state of NH privatized it's 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. [continued below]....
..... 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). Their cognitive abilities were affected by their past alcoholism, rendering 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.