BAY MINETTE, Ala. -- A civil liberties group said Friday that an Alabama town should not start an alternative sentencing program that would give non-violent offenders a new choice: Go to jail, or go to church.

Starting next week, the program will allow a city judge to sentence misdemeanor offenders to work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine, or go to church every Sunday for a year. Offenders who select church can pick the place of worship but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender's case will be dismissed.

The Alabama branch of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to send Bay Minette officials a letter demanding that they suspend the program. While the group says it supports alternative sentencing programs that save money, it believes the plan in Bay Minette violates the Constitution, state ACLU Executive Director Olivia Turner said in a statement.

What do you all think of this sentencing program?

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I think "Dammit, Alabama!" and that it's blindingly illegal. It carries with it the idea that these criminals would not have committed their crime if only they'd gone to church every week (HA), it very likely discriminates against any but a Christian church (or, perhaps, Jewish), and, while it would save the state money, it is not actually allowed by the constitution, what with the whole separation of church and state bit. You want to give them an option? Here's a thought: have them volunteer at a local charity for a year. Same frequency, same ability to have someone check, same cost to the system... and they're actually doing some good for the community. 


(Of course, I also think it would be hilarious to be sent to a Church as a court sentence and just make as big a nuisance of myself as possible. But that's another story entirely.)

Just FYI, there is no such thing as a Jewish Church, but I'll bet you serious money that Jewish, Muslim or other religious institutions were not included.

And your idea about community service is MUCH superior -- why didn't YOU run for govt. office in Alabama? They NEED people like you! Even though you'd have no chance of winning!! :-(

By the way, we DO have community service in Nevada -- so it's not unheard of.

Does this judge seriously think that church is a cure for crime?  Maybe he should take a hard look at Alabama's prisons and see just how many believers are behind bars!
Considering the prison population is made up almost entirely of believers in some faith, it appears this church going strategy has already failed.   Don't they already have community service?
You all are right. The prison population is composed mostly of believers. However, they want us to think differently. The religious try to make it seem that the "unsaved" are the majority of offenders.
I agree that community service or charity work would be a much more productive use of time than attending a church service.
I have this earworm "Papa was a rolling stone" particularly the line "stealin' in the name of the Lord." Yeah, like Christian churchgoing ever prevented crime.
wtf, they get a year for a misdemeanor? and you ask why i will never live in alabama? look at it this way tho, they might become preachers, and then they cud steal legally.
Why isn't the Rastafarian church included? This just reeks of Judge Roy Moore, Mike Huckabee, or any other of the numerous dominionist republicans.
Ask a faith based criminal which prison they would rather have- one for the body or one for the mind. They'll choose the mind figuring they can lie and still be criminals! In the words of the fictional charazcter in Predator 2 (King Willy) This is dread man, truly dread!




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