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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  • by PTD Location: Meridian on Sep 28, 2011 at 03:31 AM
    On second thought, this may be a good idea. Lets sit these hardened criminals beside your coming of age daughters who are already rebellious and looking for ways to upset momma and daddy and see how long it is before you liberals DEMAND changes. Bet it wont take long.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM
    First of all we have civil liberties for a reason. How would you like it if someone was basically forcing you to attend a church of a different religion. The reason why this country is so great is because we have freedoms and respect others rights to practice their freedom with religion. ... Also it seems to be an extremely light sentence for someone who does a crime, when church is basically just a social event. This issue is too controversial and should be left up to the federal government to handle. Since in the south everything is up to crazy tea partiers.
  • by bearhunter Location: Mississippi on Sep 26, 2011 at 07:52 PM
    I don't see what the problem is with people. They would not be forced to go to church, they would be making a choice. Hopefully it would only be for non dangerous people. But what is wrong for someone to learn the teaching of Jesus. If they choose to take church they my find Jesus. And the Bible teaches us to live right by the word of God. Every one commenting on this seems to have a problem with a religion that teaches love and forgiveness. By the comments I read I would say most were posted by young liberal minded people who's life styles my clash with the word of God. If they choose church and truly find Jesus they will reform, if not they repeat offend and then go to prison.
    • reply
      by C. on Sep 27, 2011 at 10:14 AM in reply to bearhunter
      Your belief is that there is One True Religion, and it just happens to be the one you follow - and that's fine. But what if you made a mistake (or were falsely accused but convicted anyway - it happens) and found yourself in front of a judge and given the choice of 1 year in prison, 3 years probation, and all the future discrimination that comes with having a criminal record, versus one year of weekly worship at the local mosque, and on completion your record would be wiped clean. Would you feel that's a fair choice to be presented with? Wouldn't be so easy if the 'choice' involved a religion that isn't yours... and not everyone has the same religion, in fact some have good reasons for having no religion at all.
  • by cw on Sep 26, 2011 at 09:40 AM
    next big headline CHURCH ROBBED BY INMATES this is what happens when you invite criminals into your home
    • reply
      by C. on Sep 27, 2011 at 10:00 AM in reply to cw
      Yes, that's why Jesus was such a staunch Law And Order Conservative and advocated shunning the poor, the criminals, the prostitutes, and the lepers...
      • reply
        by Justices are unscrupulous on Sep 29, 2011 at 03:22 PM in reply to C.
        Jesus was neither conservative or liberal by our political definitions. He was compassionate, but staunch where HIS faith belied. He didn't shun the poor, but he rebuked those to didn't work for their food when they could. He didn't didn't shun criminals, for Matthew was a tax collector who taxed more than the state required & kept it, but he did rebuke them. He didn't shun the prostitutes, he said go & sin no more. Nor the lepers, as He healed the sick. It's not a matter or What Would Jesus Do, Jesus would go into the jails. But, He isn't letting the jails loose rampant in the church. This law is UNconstitutional & putting the people of faith at risk. The justice system has run amuck & lost it's scruples. Methinks it's playing a dirty trick on all the people.
  • by Howie3 Location: Meridian on Sep 26, 2011 at 07:53 AM
    Send them to church for a year my ___! Bring back the penal work farms and send them there for a year. Then the religion will come naturally.
  • by me Location: Mississippi on Sep 25, 2011 at 07:50 PM
    Do the crime, Do the time. They should br locked up. No choice to the matter,if you do something once and get away with it you WILL do it again. LOCK THEM UP.
  • by ACLU Supporter on Sep 25, 2011 at 06:28 PM
    For those of you who don't know any better...
  • by Citizen Location: Meridian on Sep 25, 2011 at 03:01 PM
    Is this really who you want sitting next to your daughter in church? If I was attending a participating church, I would find another church.
  • by Gregory Location: Collinsville on Sep 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM
    Sending criminals to church? Oh, sure, teach them how to be even better criminals.
  • by I speak for me Location: MS on Sep 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM
    They may have good intentions in hopes that the prisoners can turn their lives around and this may work better than other methods in prison has worked in the past. But it is a dangerous road to take because what if someone comes along and decides to use this method to force a captive group of prisoners a religion of hate that includes killing Americans because we are infedels and teaches them how to become suicide bombers. As a Christian I would love to see everyone taught the word of God a have a chance to form a true loving relationship with God. But forcing religion in this method can create a slippery slope. don't ya think???????
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