Controversial coaching program temporarily suspended at TRICOR

(WSMV)

An internal memo obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team shows all on-site coaching for inmates by TRICOR has been temporarily suspended, including a coaching program that is accused of violating the separation of church and state.

The I-Team first reported that a federal lawsuit claims that a TRICOR program, developed around the book Ain’t No Practice Life by motivational speaker Michael Burt, contains Christian sayings. Click here to read more.

A TRICOR employee sued, claiming in court that the program was “indoctrinating” and that he disagreed with it on a religious level.

"That's the government endorsing, and being excessively entangled, in a religion," said Gayle Jordan, an attorney who consulted on the lawsuit.

Jordan is also the executive director of the group “Recovery from Religion.”

While TRICOR did respond in court that the program contained no religious content, a TRICOR memo read that all on-site coaching has been temporarily suspended.

Click here to read the memo.

"I hope that this indicates that it has been withdrawn, because they see, it's a government endorsement of a religion,” Jordan said.

The temporary suspension halts a program that’s been expensive for TRICOR, according to federal court records.

TRICOR’s attorney wrote that $298,500 for Burt’s coaching.

A federal judge earlier ruled that for now, the state cannot force the employee who is suing to teach the program or retaliate against him, citing her concerns that the program has “improper religious aspects.”

At the end of the memo, David Hart, the CEO of TRICOR, writes that, “No one is to be retaliated against for voicing any concern that they may have about TRICOR or our policies and procedures.”

A spokeswoman for TRICOR said they could not answer our questions because of the pending lawsuit.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter. He has won multiple Midsouth Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

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