Sentenced to Church

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union says Bay Minette must stop a program that will soon allow offenders to choose whether they serve a jail sentence or attend church every Sunday for a year.

The ACLU of Alabama plans to send Bay Minette a letter demanding it stop a program that's supposed to start next week. Offenders who successfully complete it would have their cases dismissed.

State ACLU Executive Director Olivia Turner says the alternative sentencing program "flagrantly" violates the Constitution. She
says the government cannot force someone to attend church. She says that when offenders must pick between prison or religious services, they do not have a true choice.

City officials did not return calls seeking comment. Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says the program could help reform offenders.

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