The judge's impulse was improper
Pinellas County Judge Stephen Rushing made a flagrant mistake
when he directed 18 defendants to a counseling program affiliated
with the Church of $cientology. Judges, who have the power to
control defendants' lives, have a special obligation to protect the
constitutional separation between church and state. Rushing's
intentions may have been innocent, but his actions violated that
Rushing's explanation is unpersuasive. He says he knew the Impulse
Control course was based on the teachings of Church of $cientology
founder L. Ron Hubbard. But he says he was assured that the program
would be secular.
What the hell is the Impulse Control course? I wonder if it involves
Introspection Rundown? I haven't seen any other stories about this, but I
probably missed at least one, since this is an editorial.
I have no idea, but from the sound of it (controlling impulses =
repressing or restraining reactions) it sounds like one of the things
it would involve is the/or a form of the Success Through Communication
Course, which is one of the most important courses for preping one
to be absorbed into the Co$ as it involves accustomizing the individual
to being controlling and controlling and also flattens ones natural
responses and emotions to outer stimulus.
Let me clarify this is only a guess on my part and nothing more.
> As of 7:45 AM, the St. Petersburg Times website (http://www.sptimes.com/)
> has not been updated with Monday's (2/10) stories, but you'll probably be
> able to find this editorial at their site later in the day.
> The judge's impulse was improper
> Pinellas County Judge Stephen Rushing made a flagrant mistake
> when he directed 18 defendants to a counseling program affiliated
> with the Church of $cientology.
[remainder snipped - RN]
> What the hell is the Impulse Control course? I wonder if it involves
> Introspection Rundown? I haven't seen any other stories about this, but I
> probably missed at least one, since this is an editorial.
Someone e-mailed me the following article from the SP Times of
February 2. I don't know if it has already been posted here or not.
CLASSES FOR DEFENDANTS HAVE TIES TO CHURCH
St. Petersburg Times (PE)
February 2, 1997
By: CRAIG PITTMAN
The choice, as the judge presented it to Anthony Eggleston,
seemed clear: Either he could go to jail on his misdemeanor charge,
or he could sign up for a counseling program called Impulse Control.
Eggleston, 18, of Largo said he picked the counseling. So far, he
has been to two classes, and he likes it.
""They teach you how to make better decisions,'' he said. ""It's
better than other counseling. You've actually got to, like, apply
Eggleston said his instructors told him the Impulse Control course
was based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. But he said nobody told
him that Hubbard had founded the Church of Scientology.
The man who sent Eggleston and 17 other Pinellas County defendants
to Impulse Control last month, County Judge Stephen Rushing, knew. But
Rushing said the people running the course promised they would not try
to convert anyone.
""I was assured it was secular,'' Rushing said. ""I was assured
it doesn't teach religion and it wasn't a Church of Scientology
The course is run by an organization called Criminon, which a
recent issue of the Scientology publication Freedom defined as an
""independent and non-religious'' organization that is ""strongly
supported by the Church of Scientology'' - another fact Eggleston said
nobody mentioned, either in court or in class.
Rushing is one of only two judges in the nation to send probationers
to Impulse Control, according to a Criminon official. The other is
in Los Angeles, where the program is just 6 months old.
Rushing, who said he is not a Scientologist, said he did not realize
he was breaking ground. He said he was merely trying a new way of
However, Rushing's use of the program has raised eyebrows among
other judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers, who worry about the
ramifications for the separation of church and state.
This is an especially sensitive time, several of them said, since
the Clearwater Police Department and Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's
Office are investigating the mysterious death of a Scientologist,
and Scientology officials are suing Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner
Joan Wood over her autopsy report on that death.
When Rushing began sending people to Criminon on Dec. 5, that
particular pot of trouble had not begun to boil. Still, Rushing said
that it never occurred to him that anyone might object to his
telling shoplifters and check bouncers to study a moral code written by
the founder of Scientology.
""Maybe I'm being naive,'' he said.
Rushing has left the criminal court bench for a post in civil court,
so he is no longer sending people to Criminon. He says he does not
know how many of the 18 people he sent to Impulse Control are attending
its classes, which cost students $150 to attend. He regards this first
class of Impulse Control students as a pilot project, to determine
whether other judges should use it.
Normally, judges sentence misdemeanor defendants to one of
the counseling programs that have already been approved by the
court's top judges. Impulse Control has not been approved and probably
never will be, according to County Judge Patrick Caddell, the
misdemeanor court administrator.
Scientology, he said, ""is always embroiled in some controversy, and
we don't go looking for controversy.''
As a native of Pinellas County, Rushing knows the stormy local
history of Scientology, a belief system launched by Hubbard in the
In 1975, the Scientologists secretly bought the old Fort Harrison
Hotel in Clearwater, using the name United Churches of Florida Inc. as
a front. After the ruse was revealed, Scientology officials
clashed with then-Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares, who was complaining
loudly about the organization's activities.
When FBI agents raided church property, they found documents
indicating a plan to smear or blackmail Cazares with trumped-up
allegations. Later, 11 Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife,
were convicted on charges stemming from break-ins at government
Rushing said he played a small role in those early investigations
by working for the disbarment of a Scientologist lawyer who had
infiltrated Cazares' political operation.
Although critics still contend Scientology is a moneymaking scheme
or a cult, Scientology leaders point to rulings by courts and the
Internal Revenue Service deeming it a legitimate religion.
Yet the old suspicions linger, and Rushing said that may account
for some people's resistance to anything remotely connected to
""This is a situation where there is some hatred and prejudice out
there against a religion,'' he said.
Despite such resistance, Scientology has successfully spread to
other countries and branched out in a variety of ways. Among its many
affiliates is the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which
Scientology spokesman Brian Anderson said the church established in
1969 to work for the rights of mental patients and expose the abuses of
Property records show Criminon's Florida headquarters, a
nondescript building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. in Clearwater,
is owned by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
Another affiliated organization is the Association of Better Living
and Education, or ABLE, which Scientology literature
describes as ""coordinating the efforts of Scientologists'' to
eradicate drug abuse, crime and illiteracy.
ABLE's World Wide Web site lists Criminon under its umbrella, along
with Criminon's parent, a Scientologist-run anti-drug program called
The president of Criminon East U.S. is Robert Henderson, a New
York corrections captain who is a Scientologist. Henderson said
many of Criminon's workers are Scientologists, but it's not a
requirement. He said he was not aware of Criminon's receiving any
financial assistance from Scientology but said the church provides
""technical assistance and advice on which materials to use.''
In its literature, Criminon boasts of setting up correspondence
courses for 1,700 inmates in more than 450 prisons throughout the
world. Henderson said the correspondence courses are being used by 60
inmates in Florida's prison system. However, Florida prison
officials say they know of no Criminon courses being used by any
The cornerstone of Criminon's course material is Hubbard's 1981
book, The Way to Happiness. Criminon literature describes it as
presenting ""a 21-point moral code based entirely on common sense''
that helps a criminal regain his or her self-respect.
Hubbard's code ""actually displaces the criminal code, thus restoring
to any individual true knowledge regarding right and wrong conduct,
a true understanding of ethics,'' the Criminon literature states.
Among the book's commands: Don't lie. Honor your parents. Don't
kill anyone or be killed. The truth is what is true for you. Take
care of yourself.
Students must complete exercises to show they can carry out
those commands - brushing their teeth, for instance, to show they are
taking care of themselves. Those exercises, Eggleston said, are
what make Impulse Control effective for him.
Critics of Scientology contend the book is a recruiting tool for
the church, using key words and concepts of Scientology's religious
texts. But Rushing, who teaches ethics at St. Petersburg Junior
College, said he leafed through it and found no mention of religion.
Actually, Henderson said, there is one mention: a command to respect
the beliefs of others. ""It doesn't encourage anyone to be or not be a
member of any religion,'' he said.
For the courts, trying to walk the line between encouraging
moral behavior and establishing a state religion can be like wandering
through a minefield.
For instance, federal courts ruled last year that ordering a
defendant to take a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous
violates the separation of church and state because AA and its
related programs are ""permeated . . . with religious content.''
Rushing said that in Pinellas County, all misdemeanor probation
is administered not by the state, but by an arm of the Salvation
Army, a religious organization.
But Rushing said people should not judge a counseling program based
on its religious connections but on its results - which in the case of
Impulse Control will not be known until the class completes six
more of its 10 sessions.
Classes meet every other Saturday in a Largo recreation center.
Rushing said anyone who doesn't like the course can drop out and instead
perform 50 hours of community service.
""If it is a good program and a secular program, that should really
be the end of it,'' he said. ""What's the difference if you have a
Baptist run a course or a Scientologist run a course?''
If it turns out to be nothing but a ploy to promote Scientology,
the judge said, ""I owe an apology to the people I put in that
The judge said he has yet to sit in on any of the courses. He said
he learned about Impulse Control by studying the literature Criminon
mailed to him last year and decided to try it after speaking to its
staff members, watching a video they gave him and reading more
literature they provided.
""Maybe I didn't ask enough questions,'' he said. But since the
older, established counseling programs have yet to eradicate crime,
Rushing said, what's wrong with trying something new?
""Are we going to be so close-minded that, if your house is on fire
and your baby's in the house and a fire truck pulls up with a
Christian, a Jew and a Scientologist on the truck, you're going to
say, "Don't save my baby?' '' Rushing asked. ""I think I should have an
- Times staff writer Thomas C. Tobin and researcher Kitty
Bennett contributed to this report.
>What the hell is the Impulse Control course?
I assume it is simply another name for criminon. The problem is that the
name "criminon" is already too much associated with scientology, so they
use new names.