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Can a judge force someone to go to church instead of prison?

Jan. 28, 2013

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

In December 2011, the pickup truck that 17-year-old Tyler Alred was driving swerved off a rural Oklahoma road and hit a tree. His 16-year-old passenger was ejected from the car and killed. Alred had been drinking and his blood-alcohol level was 0.07. Even though it was under the legal limit of 0.08, he was charged with DUI because he was under age.

At Alred’s sentencing for a manslaughter conviction almost a year later, the judge offered a unique punishment. Oklahoma District Court Judge Mike Norman arranged for Alred to not go to jail as long as he attended church every Sunday for the next 10 years. He also required Alred to finish high school, enter into vocational school or trade training, and avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs for a year.

“I feel like church is important. I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that.… I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another…. I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day,” Norman said in a New York Times interview.

The judge’s punishment raises several constitutional questions.

The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” “Congress” has been interpreted by the courts as the government. Simply put, no government at any level can establish a religion, force religion on individuals, or keep people from practicing the religion of their choice.

Also, while not expressly written in the Constitution, the separation of church and state has been a fundamental concept of the U.S. government and state and local governments.

Does Judge Norman’s punishment violate the First Amendment because it forces Alred to attend church instead of prison? The Alred family already attended church regularly, so the argument could be made that the judge is not forcing Alred to change religion or become involved with religion.

But, under the principles of the separation of church and state, forcing Alred to attend church could be viewed as government coercion, offering him little choice when it comes to faith.

Another issue that has been raised is how the government plans to monitor Alred because this, too, raises a church/state separation issue. Does the judge or probation officer have to monitor Alred in church, making sure he attends and is doing what he should be doing? This can lead to other possible entanglements between the government and the church.

If the judge didn’t think prison was the right punishment for Alred, he also could have suspended the sentence, put Alred on probation, required counseling or simply enforced only the conditions that he added to the church requirement: finishing high school and avoiding alcohol and drugs for a year.

What do you think?

Does sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail violate the separation of church and state? Is the sentence an endorsement or establishment of a religion by the government? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!

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Comments
12/19/2017
Magnolia Tx
Jamie
Metzger/ Magnolia West High School
The topic of a judge sentencing church attendance for a punishment, I believe is unconstitutional. Although I am a firm believer of Christ, the sentencing of a criminal to church is against the First Amendment. I do believe that with God anything is possible, but there is a large portion of the United States that choose to believe in a different God or nothing at all. With this being said, it can not be forced upon someone to go to church. Although the teen boy was a churchgoer, being sentenced to church every sunday for ten years is not appropriate punishment for his actions.

3/16/2016
Stroudsburg Pa
Uzoya
Mr.Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I would say yes the judges decision to send Tyler Alfred to church instead of prison the crimes he committed violate the separation of church and state. A Fair Trial is the best means of separating the guilty from the innocent and protecting against injustice. Without this right, the rule of law and public faith in the justice system collapse. The Right to a Fair Trial is one of the cornerstones of a just society. How is it a fair trail of someone in the same position was sentenced to 20 years in jail and Alfred has a choice of going to jail or going to church.

3/15/2016
Stroudsburg, PA
Hope
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I feel that in some cases sentencing someone to 10 years of church is unconstitutional, but in the case of this young man, he already attended church so the judge was not forcing a religion onto him or anything. Also, church, while debated, does teach moral values and could possibly help reform this particular boy. While this judge put a happy face onto the religion as a place of reform for the boy, I don't see this as a government endorsement of Christianity, and therefore, it is quite harmless.

3/14/2016
Stroudsburg, PA
Ryan P.
Mr. Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
The first amendment clearly states that all U.S. citizens have freedom of religion. The government should not and can not force a person to attend a church because of the first amendment. Punishments like this are why seperation of church and state is such a big deal. Therefore, it is unconstitutional for a judge to sentence somebody to go to church.

6/5/2015
Stroudsburg, PA
Jeremy
Mr.Hanna SJHS
No, I think a judge shouldn't force someone to go to church instead of prison because that's not right, and they would be getting away with whatever they have done to end up in the court room.

5/27/2015
murrieta / ca
omaree
mr.jabro / creekside high school
no because if you are appearing in front of a judge your must have committed a crime and with the crime that you have done there will be a jail sentence probation something under the code of conduct

11/16/2014
sidney, Montana
Mark
Mr. Faulhaber Sidney High School
I believe that the sentencing of someone to attend church instead of jail does not violate the separation of church and state. Forcing someone to go to a church they already attend means that its not the state mandating a particular religion. Therefore, this case does not show an establishment of religion. In addition, in a 2001 study by Colin Baier and Bradley Wright, it was found that, "religious beliefs and behaviors exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals' criminal behavior." This could ultimately mean a religious presence in Tyler would turn his life around for the better.

11/16/2014
sidney, Montana
Mark
Mr. Faulhaber Sidney High School
I believe that the sentencing of someone to attend church instead of jail does not violate the separation of church and state. Forcing someone to go to a church they already attend means that its not the state mandating a particular religion. Therefore, this case does not show an establishment of religion. In addition, in a 2001 study by Colin Baier and Bradley Wright, it was found that, "religious beliefs and behaviors exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals' criminal behavior." This could ultimately mean a religious presence in Tyler would turn his life around for the better.

11/14/2014
Stroudsburg/ P.A.
Masi
Hanna/ Jr.High
I think that Jail is needed if you did something wrong. Church is something very important but jail is needed if you are a bad person. Someone can attend church and go to jail, but church isn't a alternative choice.

11/14/2014
Stroudsburg, PA
Karissa
Mr. Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
A judge should NOT be able to force someone to go to church instead of prison because going to church IS in fact a personal decision. Not everybody believes in GOD or Jesus and some people don't want to. The judge shouldn't be able to do that because that could be going against their religion or something. So No absolutely not a judge shouldn't be able to force someone to go to church.

11/14/2014
Stroudsburg,PA
Daniel
Mr.Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I don't think it is fair for a judge to send you to church because what If you weren't religoius. You could believe in a different religion and not the one that the judge is sending you to. I think the judge is voilating his first amendment because if someone doesn't believe in God but has to go to church for ten years this means the judge Is forcing him into a religion. If the person goes to church regularly then it's really not a punishment which means they kind of got off easy.

11/14/2014
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Tessa
Mr. Hanna/Stroudsburg SJH
The government should not be able to make someone go to church instead of jail. Going to church is a personal decision and should not be looked at as a punishment. If they do not believe in God than church will not help them. They will not learn their lesson from church they will learn it from jail. They will have more freedom because they would be able to walk around and they wouldnt be locked in jail.. Church is an option for whom ever would like to go. We have freedom of religion which also means that if you don't want to than you are not forced. Therefore the government should not be able to sentence someone to going to church instead of jail.

11/13/2014
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Brian Buzzard
Mr. Hanna SJHS
I feel that government and religion are two completely different things. I feel that though the judge is religious the boy may not have been (even though he was). I don't feel it was right to force religion on him when he was caught drinking and driving and killing his friend. The guy already went to church so there was no difference and he wouldn't learn a lesson. In my opinion they should have kept church and government separate and just made him serve jail time.

11/13/2014
Stroudsburg, PA
Adam
Mr.Hanna/ Stroudsburg Junior high
I think it would be very ofensive to religious people. Like church is not a punishment.

6/12/2014
Stroudsburg, PA
Joseph D
Mr.Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I do not think the judge should force someone to go to church then go to jail. I think this because if someone killed somebody then they should go straight to jail and not to a church.

5/14/2014
Murrieta California
Sebastian Salinas
Mr.Jabro
I believe what the judge is trying to force on the kid which is either church or prison is unconstitutional. We as people in the united states have the right to believe in what we want to believe in. We can choose our own religion of our own choice or even none if we feel that is the right choice for us. It seems as if the judge was trying to help or give the kid a second chance but still it was violating the first amendment and it was wrong.

5/5/2014
Rudyard, MT
Kat Stockdill
Mrs.Campbell/ North Star
No, it would violate that person's first amendment rights. Everyone has the freedom of religion, and the freedom from religion. So to force someone to attend church would be a violation of those rights.

11/11/2013
Sidney, MT
Jozi
Mr. Faulhaber
Constitutionally, I believe a judge cannot force a minor to attend church. Being that there is a clear separation of church and state, this sentence should not be followed through. It is the decision of the people to take part in a religion, not the government forcing it on them.

11/5/2013
great neck New York
Aviva S.
Ms.Davidson great neck north high school
I believe that a Judge can't force someone to go to Church because everyone has a right to stay within their religion. Personally if a Government or whoever is deciding to give a person a job as a judge they should not hire him/her if they know that person will send the victim to a religious place that they do not follow.

9/27/2013
Watertown
Sarah
Rimas
I think that the judge has permission to sentence the boy to ten years of church. If the boy doesn't want to go then he doesn't have too, simple as that.

9/27/2013
Watertown, MA
Santos C.
Rimas/watertown high
No a judge can't force someone to go to church since everyone has the right to practice their own religion. It is unconstitutional since in the first amendment it says "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The person can decide to go to church if they want to, it shouldn't be a punishment. Also it doesn't make any sense for them to go to church instead of prison. If they committed a crime they should go to prison not church.

9/27/2013
watertown, ma
Alex
rimas/WHS
No. A judge can not make someone go to church instead of prison. It is unconstitutional, everyone has the right to religious freedom in America.

9/25/2013
watertown,
nina
watertown high
no because church and prison are two different things.

9/25/2013
Watertown
Hayley
Rimas
No because everyone has the right to practice their own religion and can't be forced into a different religion

9/20/2013
Sidney/Montana
Glennda
Mr. Faulhaber
I think that you shouldn't ever be forced to go to church.It should only be a choice an individual can make on their own.It is wrong for a judge to make a kid go to church and denies rights to their own religious freedom.

9/13/2013
Sidney, MT
Jessi Harmon
Mr. Faulhaber
No person should be forced to go to church under any circumstances. It is a religious freedom and choice, not a punishment or a way out of jail. The very thought of a judge having the ability to force an American to go to church instead of prison is unconstitutional. What ever happened to freedom of speech, or freedom of religion?

9/13/2013
Sidney Mt
Seth
Mr.Faulhaber shs
Not in any means a judge should never be able to force church service on another person seperation of church and state no one has any right to force their religion or any other on a person. "Go with christ braa" *cartman voice Hall Moniter

9/13/2013
Sidney, Montana
Kali
Mr. Faulhaber/ Sidney High School
Not only is this punishment unconstitutional, it goes against common sence. Many people attend church for the social aspect of the gathering and are not truely sincer about their faith. Some people do not believe in a God, and our country allows that. Just because Tylers Alreds family attends church regularly doesn't nessessarly mean that Tyler ever wanted to or had plans to do so in the future. This punishment sounds more like a push forward in life, helped be the judge. This is not a punishment. He will only benefit from this and someone lost their life because of this decision. This is not fair and not constitutional.

9/13/2013
Sidney, Mt
Daria
Faulhaber/sidney high school
It is unconstitutional for a judge to make someone go to church as a punishment or a different solution other than jail. As citizens of the United States, people have the right to religion; if they choose to be religious or not. This is why i feel it is unconstitutional for a judge to make a decision like that. Church and prison are complete opposite places to be sent to.

4/10/2013
roseburg oregon
anthony
boys and girls club
i think that a judge shouldnt be able to make someone go to church instead of prison because if the person doesnt believe in god or other releigions he shouldnt be forced to do it they should atleast have a choice between prison and church

3/27/2013
Watertown/MA
Dan Loprete
Watertown High school/John Rimas
A person who commits a crime does not deserve to go to church, they deserve to go prison and serve the right punishment for their crime. It is unconstitutional for a judge to send someone to church instead of prison because it does not make any sense.

3/27/2013
Watertown/MA
Kosta Fabrikarakis
Rimas/Watertown
Not only is this unconstitutional but it is absurd. A person who commits a crime especially one that results in another human being losing their life should spend the rest of their life behind bars. Forcing somebody to go to church doesn't "correct" the problem, you can't force a person to change their beliefs and go to church. Of course somebody would choose church over jail time, who wants to live behind bars? Jail is a place where people spend their days thinking about what they did living with the consequences.

3/22/2013
Sidney, Montana
Abbe
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The separation of church and state has been upheld for a reason. I think that it had good intentions, but it could very easily be seen as the government upholding religion over non-religion. It should not be allowed.

3/22/2013
Sidney, MT
Dain
Mr. Faulhaber
It's unconstitutional for a judge to force someone to go to church every Sunday, and it's obvious why. Religion is a choice, and I don't believe someone that's committed a crime should even have a choice of whether or not to go anywhere else but jail; especially church. Jail time and church aren't going to have the same effects on a convicted felon as one another, (to some extent they might), but church isn't going to have a great enough effect. Church isn't an alternative.

3/22/2013
Rudyard/ Montana
Caleb
Mrs. Campbell/ North Star
I think that this is not a violation of church and state. I believe that the fact that Alred is getting a choice between the two shows that the government is not forcing religion on him. By holding a probationary meeting every week with Alred, the state can make sure that he is going to church without interfering with church. I believe that the lenient punishment is acceptable because he was under the legal limit and his conscience would be punishment as well. He knows that it was his fault and he will have to live with that, the weekly church service being a reminder of what he did. So I feel that the judge's sentencing was fair and constitutional.

3/20/2013
Colorado
Jackie
Ms. Mumby/John F. Kennedy Highschool
I think this shouldnt be aloud. Law and religion shouldnt be put together to solve something. Sure the Alreds attend church regularly, but in another situation it wouldnt be fair for someone who either doesnt have those beleifs or has never gone to church in there life. they should have to pay for what they did like everyone else.

3/19/2013
denver colorado
randy
ms.Mumby jhof f kennedy high school
i agree with the judge all the way because i say this punishmet is against theire religion.I say this because if they go to church instead of jail i sasy that this is the easy way out of jail. i say that a death is awfull,but if you let the criminal choose their punishment well then thats just plain dumb .this is why i choose that they should go to prison

3/19/2013
denver colorado
randy
ms.Mumby jhof f kennedy high school
i agree with the judge all the way because i say this punishmet is against theire religion.I say this because if they go to church instead of jail i sasy that this is the easy way out of jail. i say that a death is awfull,but if you let the criminal choose their punishment well then thats just plain dumb .this is why i choose that they should go to prison

3/19/2013
DENVER/COLORADO
JACOB
MS.MUMBY/JFK
I agree with Jimmy from Mrs.Morris class that it could be againts there religon plus they could like church better that prison they would be taking the easy way out.I think they should go to prison for what they did.

3/18/2013
Irving/TX
But nguyen
Bradley/Nimitz
Even though Judge Norman felt bad for the boy and tried to help him out, his action of requiring the boy to attend church instead of going to jail clearly violates the separation of the church and state and cause future problems. Firstly, this will cause loss of trust in the government to protect our rights because the 1st amendment wasn’t being upheld. Secondly, future criminals can use this event to argue to try to go to church instead of jail. If the court disapproves of their arguments, the future criminals can then argue against unfairness and discrimination against them. Lastly, government can take this as a cue that it’s safe to violate other aspects of the 1st amendment like freedom of speech, press, and assembly to consolidate its powers. Judge Norman’s decision may be generous, but the problem it will create in the future overshadows his generosity.

3/1/2013
Benson/AZ
Rhiannon
Sorenson/ Benson High
It is the choice of the criminal, in my opinion they shouldn't have a choice. But beacause of rights, the decision to go to either church or prison is entirely up to the criminal. If they are defiant and won't go to either then other forces would need to be brought in and the decision made by another person who is impartial about the criminal.

3/1/2013
Benson
Morgan
Sorenson
I think Alred deserves to go to prision for the crime he committed. However, I think he should have the choice to choose whether or not he goes to church instead of prision and he should not be forced to do anything against his beliefs. Either way, I think Alred would be smart to go to church rather than jail and it seems as if the judge is trying to give him a better option than prision.

2/28/2013
Irving/TX
Kenia
Bradley/ Nimitz HS
By sentencing Alred to attend church for the next ten years of his life instead of going to jail clearly violates the separation of church and state. Religion requires personal opinion and perspective. The judges ruling leaves the door open for many other lawyers to try to appeal for church over prison in favor of their clients. It's not fair for the parole officers that would have to keep an eye on him every Sunday for the next 10 years and also for the family that was devastated by his choices.

2/28/2013
Irving, TX
Emina
Bradley/Nimitz
The judge in this case was only looking out for the young man because he felt sorry for him and he felt that this was the only way he can change the man's life for good. It is a violation of church and state. No judge can force anybody to go to church no matter what. He says in New York Times, "I think Jesus can help anybody." As a judge your job is not to think religiously but logically and the judge has absolutely no right to sentence someone to go to church. The judge may think that sending the boy to church is logically the correct answer but as a judge, you can't do that

2/28/2013
AZ
Emily
Benson
There is no way that this should be allowed. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are rights that cannot be taken away. you cant force religion upon someone and the criminal could just sit there not learning or paying attention in any way and just use it as a way to get out of prison time.

2/27/2013
Irving/Tx
Joshua B
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that it is very unconstintutional for a judge to send someone to church instead of jail because that is going against our 1st right in the bill of right and that is right for religion. what if the person you send to church does not believe in god then it would be a waste of time and nothing is gained to the criminal and what if it was a major crime? Will that mean that going to chuch would be his/her Pushishment?

2/27/2013
Irving/TX
Dennys A.
Bradley/Nimitz
Judge Norman made an unorthodox call, to require an individual to forcefully attend church as opposed to going to jail. This call clearly violates the separation of church and state not to mention its also causes future problems. After hearing about such a case what's stopping individuals convicted of crimes from appealing to attend church rather than jail using it as an excuse to walk away from their punishments,"If you do it for one, you have to do it for all"(hopefully that doesn't become the case). Should government officials let their beliefs convey into politics only trouble will come of it.

2/26/2013
Sidney, Montana
Jason
Mr. Faulhaber
I do not believe that the judge has any right to require anybody to go to church. As soon as the government is given this right, the whole first amendment becomes invalid. As soon as the government has the right and power to send someone to church the separation between church and state becomes a whole lot less separated and our freedom of religion is lost. If the government is able to take our freedom of religion away, what is to say that they can't take our freedom of speech or press? I believe that an issue such as this has too much potential to be a slippery slope.

2/26/2013
Irving/Texas
Kelsie E
Ms.Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail dies violate the seperation of church and state. Yet just think about all the money and time the government can save and maybe even save a criminals life. I also feel that this sentencing should be based on the intensity of the crime. For example, DUI and first time offenses that aren't that serious. Also the sentencing should also be based on their religion.

2/25/2013
Benson/Arizona
Amanda
Mr. Sorensen Benson High School
No, a judge nor anyone can force someone to go to church because it says in the 1st amendment that we have the right to any religion and religion can not be forced upon us. A judge does have the right to send someone to prison if he have some sort of evidence for a crime that that person has commited

2/24/2013
Rudyard, Montana
Aron
Mrs. Campbell, North Star
Sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail does violate the seperation of church and state. This is in violation of the first amendment of freedom of religion. Meaning that citizens are allowed any religion they want to preach. Now forching them to attend church is taking away there right to religion when Tyler was forced to attend church which took away his freedom. This sentecing is an establishment of a religion by the government. Which is also going against the constitution and the judge had no right to place this sentencing on Tyler.

2/20/2013
Irving/Texas
Crystal
Bradley/Nimitz
The two main focus is on religion versus government. The big overall question is, how will other people who are under age and had the same "situation", drove drunk and killed a minor, feel about Alred's easy punishment. He doesn't have to be behind bars, eat the slop his state provides him --but at least he get to go to church. For one, has this kid's attitude improved? Did he stop drinking? Stop doing drugs? I do not approve this easy punishment, because it is not equal for others with the same situation. If other people get put into jail for this type of crime, so does he. People will use this to their advantage, because not everybody now-a-day are religious or share the same religion. This will cause chaos and we certainly don't want another war over religion and the government.

2/20/2013
Sidney/Montana
Lane
Mr. Faulhaber
The issue is a huge violation of church and state. Judges cant punish anyone by making them go to church or any religious meetings.

2/20/2013
Sidney, MT
Mandi
Mr. Faulhaber/ Sidney High School
I believe that it is a huge violation of the separation of church and state. Even though his family are avid church goers, that is so unconstitutional it's not even funny. I personally believe that if our own country will not allow prayer in schools or at school functions and all of the above, that sentencing a 17 year old boy who is still attending a public school is by far a horrible sentence. Attending church every single sunday for 10 years would almost be impossible, and who's to say he went? no one is going to avidly check up on him, and forcing someone to go with him isn't fair.

2/20/2013
Sidney, MT
Matt
Mr. Faulhaber/SHS
Sentencing someone to attend church instead of prison is a violation of church and state.

2/20/2013
Sidney/Montana
Justin
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
I believe that the judge is working directly for the government and because of that, should not be able to use church for any circumstance. He shouldn't even be given the option for a church sentence but highly recommended.

2/20/2013
Sidney, MT
Alec
Mr. Faulhaber
I believe that sentencing someone to attend church is a violation of church and state. I am assuming that the judge sentenced him to go to a Christian church, since he made a direct reference to Jesus. Not only is this preferring religion over non religion, it is specifying a distinct religion, which is something that a judge of the state should not be allowed to do. Although I know this judge was just trying to do the right thing, this sentence is definitely an endorsement of religion by the government and should not be allowed

2/20/2013
Sidney MT
Mitch
Faulhaber/SHS
The judge is a agent of the government, and should only be able to impose government based punishments. Simple as that, the government cannot impose a religion upon you. I believe the judges intentions were in good meaning however.

2/20/2013
Sidney/Montana
Molly
Faulhaber
Though the judge is only wanting the best for this kid, I don't think he should be able to make him go to church in replacement for going to prison. Every other term he added to his sentence made sense but I do not think church should be involved. Making him finish high school and go to college would be the best for him. Besides, what if he wanted to go live somewhere else after high school? Would the police have to follow him to that town to make sure he still went to church? The fact that he basically killed one of his good friends is quite the punishment anyway, if you ask me.

2/20/2013
Sidney,MT
Abby
Mr. Faulhaber/SHS
I feel like a judge should not be able to force someone to go to church. It's a clear violation of the first amendment. The first amendment clearly states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I think requiring Alred to go to church is prohibiting his free exercise.

2/20/2013
sidney/montana
kris
Mr. Faulhaber
i feel that that if you are under age and drinking and driving that you shod get a DUI and an imp and if you have tobacco on school grounds and are 18 you shod not get in rubella. the thing with church and stat is that you shod be more forest on school the religion.

2/20/2013
Sidney, MT
Keziah
Faulhaber/SHS
I don't think it's right for a judge to give out a sentence of attending church every Sunday for 10 years in replacement of a prison sentence. Although the kid was only 17, I still think he should be punished like anyone else would be for the same crime. There's not way of monitoring Alred on Sundays to see if he is attending church. Also, not attending church is not against the law. If Alred does happen to skip a Sunday of church, what kind of consequences will there be? I just think it's ridiculous. I also think that this is a violation of the 1st Amendment. It clearly states that Congress should not favor any religion. Because he gave out a sentence involving religion, I feel like he is most definitely choosing religion over state.

2/16/2013
Irving/ Texas
Tasia
Bradley/Nimitz
I feel that depending on the intensity of the crime, a person should be allowed to have church as a way out. I feel that puttting someone in jail for a DUI may not have any affect on them not making that same mistake. They may have fear of going back to jail but this little offense is causing the state extra money espically if they didn't harm anybody. Making Tyler go to church saves the states money and throughout all the days he is sentenced to go to church the preacher may say something that that really opens his eyes and changes the way he views his life and decesions he may make.

2/15/2013
Belleville/New York
Nichole
Colby/BHCS
I don't agree with criminals having the option of avoiding prison by going to church. There is a seperation of Church and State for a reason. This desicion will only lead to agruments. I also believe that being forced to attend church makes attending church a punishment. The criminal can always attend church in prison.

2/15/2013
Belleville, New York
Kristia
Ms. Colby/ BHCS
I believe that it wasn't right that the kid was underage and drinking and he desires to go to prison. But the judge doesn't have a right to decide if he should go to church. Some people don't believe in going to church so why force someone.

2/15/2013
13650
Peter
Colby/Belleville henderson
I don't think he should even have a choice to go to prison or church. You should just go to prison because it's like letting someone go for killing someone. And this makes the judge look like he is promoting evil.

2/15/2013
Belleville/New York
Heather
Colby/Belleville
First of all this jude needs to learn to sepearte church and state. Second of all he needs to realize that he was underage drinking and driving. There is no excuse for that. The licesne should have been revoked. Not everybody feels the same way about churuch. Some people don't even believe in god! He broke the law, their are consequences with your actions.

2/11/2013
Benson
Kady
Sorensen/Benson
I don't think a judge can force someone to go to church, but he knew his family went and he gave him that option. The kid was only 17 so this was definitely a better option than jail. But no a judge should not force just anyone to have to go to church.

2/8/2013
Benson
Morgan
Sorenson
I think Alred deserves to go to prision for the crime he committed. However, I think he should have the choice to choose whether or not he goes to church instead of prision and he should not be forced to do anything against his beliefs. Either way, I think Alred would be smart to go to church rather than jail and it seems as if the judge is trying to give him a better option than prision.

2/8/2013
Benson, Arizona
Dylan L
Sorenson
I don’t think that a judge can make a person got to church. I think that they can give them the option and if they don’t except it then it is their own fault. I would think that the person would take church instead of prison because i think that it would be a little easier to go through. With that said I don’t think that a judge can make someone go to church

2/8/2013
Benson Arizona
Alyssa
Sorenson
I do think the sentence to attend church violates the seperation between church and state. Just because you send somebody toattend church doesnt mean they'll listen or care but prison is a punishment people learn from.

2/7/2013
Irving/Texas
Monica A.
Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing someone to church instead of prison does violate separation between church and state. Alred was already attending church on a daily basis with his family, so why would it help if he went every Sunday for the next 10 years. It wouldn't do any good at all. He should of just gone to jail as his punishment, so he could learn the hard way. The government is endorsing & establishing religion saying the it's the right thing to do. Alred committed a serious crime, so he should be doing time time, not attending church.

2/6/2013
Columbia/SC
Maggie
Brnaham/Glenforest
In response to Abdullah Syed: Yes that is true give to the choice between the two they would all mostly pick church and those with diffrent religion's would feel offended. But beacuse of what you also point out about those who do not care about religion and atheist it would be a perfect punishment for them. But also those who fallow a diffrent church but the same religion might also be punished because of the fact they might be rivals.

2/6/2013
Harrisburg, PA
Tanner
Mrs.Morris, CD High
I believe that the judge did not have the right to do that. It does violate Alred's rights. It would be different if the judge gave him a choice of either church or prision. He could be of a different religion and forced to go to a church of the religion that the judge believes in. Not only is that violating his rights to freedom of religion, it also violates the seperation of church and state and the judge is violating his rights by forcing his religion on to someone else, and that was a big reason of why the early settelers came to America so we could have religious freedom. Forcing him to go to church is un-American.

2/6/2013
Harrisburg, PA
Jimmy
Mrs. Morris, CD High
A judge should not be able to force someone to go to church because it violates there religous rights.

2/6/2013
Harrisburg/PA
Alison
Morris/CDHS
While I do not believe that sentencing someone is a violation of the seperation of church and state I do believe that it is a violation of his personal freedoms. you can not force religion on someone regardless of whether their family goes to church or not i mean whose to say that he agreed with his parents beliefs and wasnt just going because he had no choice. whose to say that 5 years from now he wontdecide that he doesnt believe in ahigher power and stops going to churchthen hell be persecuted for not believing in god and thats just ridiculous. and what about the family of the victim im sure they dont agree with the sentence his reform wont bring their child back he shouldnt be made exempt from the law he should be charged and sentenced just as everyone else who commited vehicular manslaughter is charged

2/6/2013
Harrisburg, Pa
Kieran
Central Dauphin High School
The judge's choice is obviously very controversial and I am on the side that believes the judge's actions were unconstutional. If the judge would've handled his duties following the Constitution, he would've never pushed religion upon Alred, regardles of his current religious views.

2/6/2013
Harrisburg, PA
Hannah
Central Dauphin High School
In my opinon, I believe that it might be a good idea that the judge arranged Alred to go to church every Sunday for 10 yrs. because he killed someone and I think it would be useful for him to go to church because hopefully it will help him understand that he took someone's life. He is also only 17 so he needs to become more mature and grow up.

2/6/2013
Harrisburg/Pennsylvania
Abdullah Syed
Mrs. Morris/Central Dauphin High School
Being forced to attend church is a strange punishment indeed, but anyone would rather forcibly attend church than go to jail. However someone who is very religious, but not of the religion of that church would of course feel as if his/her 1st Amendment rights have been violated. A judge should not be allowed to force someone to go to church mainly because it violates freedom of religion. The other reason should be obvious since going to church is not a punishment and any criminal that does not care about religion or is an atheist would enjoy the potential lack of punishment that would be at a church rather than a jail.

2/5/2013
rudyard MT
Donovan
Ms.Campbell Northstar
I think that judge did the right thing with tyler. Going to church is a good thing for tyler to see, there is a better life style out there to live with out alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.His little brother is in a better place, and going to church to pray to his little brother that he is sorry for every thing and church can change people. Like me i went to church and it teach me that you can have fun with out drinking and smoking. You have your friends to have fun.

2/4/2013
Irving/TX
Elyssa
Bradley/Nimitz
Everybody makes mistakes some are spared for their actions while others are punished. What makes it alright for Judge Norman to sentence a intoxicated adult driver to jail time and an intoxicated minor who happened to kill his passenger to church. I’m not saying that the intoxicated driver should not be punished but shouldn’t they get a reasonable punishment for their actions. A Punishment is a punishment. We have laws to protect our society and if you break these laws you should be punished. Our society punishes you for your wrongdoings to teach you a lesson. The judge isn’t teaching this kid any lessons, because church isn’t a punishment. Church is for people who believe in God and are willing to let him in; if this minor is not willing to let god in it isn’t going to help him. But if this kid attends church regularly how is this a punishment? So this kid makes a mistake, drives intoxicated and kills his 16 yr old passenger and lives his life like nothing ever happened. The Judge needs to separate church and state because what this judge believes isn’t what everyone believes. If anyone had the chance between church and jail they would pick church no matter what they believe in, because they don’t have to believe in God to attend mass. Everyone should be disciplined by their decisions and mistakes, this is what makes us stronger and more aware of our decisions.

2/4/2013
Irving/TX
Gabe
Bradley/Nimitz
If the possibility of judges sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail going to be an option for judges, it must be a choice made by the person who was convicted. The punishment could be seen as how the convicted would choose between a set amount of hours of community or a set amount of days of jail. Judges are already allowed to sentence people to attending AA which has many religious influences in it's meetings. Jails also already have church groups that inmates have the choice to attend. The possibility is already there, so as long as the option of Church attendance isn't the only option on the table, then the sentencing seems reasonable.

2/4/2013
Irving/Texas
Yeny
Bradley/Nimitz
The deal that the judge from Oklahoma made with Alfred from either going to jail or attending church does violate the 1st Amendment. Religions and jail sentence shouldn't be a thing to be negotiable. If he committed that crime then he should pay for what he did. He was responsible of the person killed. Attending church for 10 years will not erase the fact that he killed a person while was a little drunk and it won't also take away the loss of the family hurt. That shouldn't be an option for anyone and if the Oklahoma judge did it for Alfred, then other judges around the United States would have to do a deal like that with other people and it's not fair to other people who have or are still in jail for minor things.

2/1/2013
Irving/Texas
April K.
Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail does violate the separation of church and state. However, if the option was given to go to church or to prison then it would have not violated the first amendment. There is be nothing wrong with the punishment because his family already attends church, so it is not like a new religion is being forced upon him. The only problem is that it is against the first amendment because it would be considered as the government endorsing the religion to the public. I would rather go to church than go to prison, and even if forced to go to church it wouldn't be forcing me to actually believe anything. The sermons could easily be tuned out and ignored while just being forced to sit in a church pew. No one can be forced to believe something, but only forced to sit through something. In the end a judge should be able to force someone to go to church instead of prison, but since it is against the amendment then they just can not force the criminals to the punishment.

2/1/2013
Irving/Texas
Giancarlo
Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing a minor to attend church is a ridiculous way to make him pay for his mistake. Judge Norman believes that church will straighten Alred but he doesn't realize that the morals in church won't reach Alred if he doesn't let them. Attending church is made for believing in God and shouldn't be made to punish a convict. On the other hand, could this mean that the government believes in the church? The government sentenced this young man to church because they're conscious of the good values and morals in church. In contrast, church is a matter of choice. One can either have these values and morals or not have them. Alred was drinking and driving; he should pay for his action.

2/1/2013
Irving/Texas
Alan
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not see it as a violation of anything, because he could always pick the jail time, which is what he would most likely get anyways. He is still very young, and while what he did was reckless and illegal, going to prison would certainly doom him. If he were to go to jail, he would come out exactly as he went in: broke and without a degree. There is also more required from him, such as finishing high school. It is more like a second chance than a punishment. A lot of people "find God" and end up turning their lives around. However, it is not fair that he gets that option while many others do not. If the judge just didn't want to send him to prison he could have done something else, but if sending him to prison was his intent the whole time it makes it more reasonable to offer an alternative. Maybe it is because of his age, but a lot many more would actually want a chance to try to "find God". Sadly, many would use it as an excuse to not go to prison making it very inefficient. Also, since the Alfred family already attended church regularly, it might not do much for Tyler. He isn't forcing him to change religions, so it could not be an endorsement in his case since he already regularly attends.

2/1/2013
Irving/Texas
Grace
Bradley/Nimitz
Drinking and driving, no matter who did it, is still a crime. A crime many people have gone to prison for, so why should this 17-year old be treated any different? A 16- year old was killed because of Tyler Alred's reckless behavior. Judge Norman sentenced Alred to go to church every single Sunday for the next ten years, and even gave him a chance to finish school; and not to mention, the Alreds have been attending church regularly. If you've been doing something regularly, then how is doing that same thing a punishment? That's not my idea of a punishment. Also, isn't the merging of state and religion distasteful to the world's eyes? How can a judge who works for the state give out a religious sentence? Through my eyes, the merging of state and church is a wonderful thing. It's like two worlds becoming one. Even though I agree with religion merging with state, going to church for ten years and then being able to finish school is not a strict enough punishment for is crimes. Alred was drunk driving and eventually that led to his passengers death. His punishment deserves more than his regular Sunday routines. The state and church have been separated all this time, so why combine them now? A state crime deserves a state punishment, and that would lead straight to prison.

2/1/2013
Irving/Tx
Kelly
Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail absolutely violates the separation of church and state. Eventhough Alred did not purposely kill his friend it was still a ignorant decision, because he was under age drinking and driving. I'm sure Alred feels awful for what happened, but it does not excuse his punishment. You can go to church and just sit there. You do not have to pay attention if you don't want to. Therfore, church is not a form of punishment. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof." You cannot involve religion in punishment, because it is going against the First Amendment.

2/1/2013
Irving/Texas
Cody
Bradley/Nimitz
What our world needs is church; however, the government can not enforce church or religion on someone. “The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” Although the judge has great intentions and could help the teenager out in life, the judge has to respect the individual rights of each person. Sentencing someone to go to church, when he attends regularly teaches the teen no lesson. It's a “slap on the wrist” at most. What if the teenager was atheist? Then the judge would be forcing someone to go somewhere that the person doesn't believe in. The individual has the right to religious freedom, and that right should be honored.

2/1/2013
Irving/TX
Quynh
Bradley/Nimitz
Tyler Alred was driving with his friend John Luke Dum in the passenger seat during the early hours of the morning of 3 December 2011, when his pickup swerved off the road and hit a tree. Dum was thrown from the truck and killed. Alred had been drinking and was charged with manslaughter. Though he was only 16, he could have got four years to life. But Oklahoma district court judge Mike Norman agreed with the defence lawyer that Alred, who's already a churchgoer, was "worth saving" and decided not to throw the book at Alred – unless you're talking about the Good Book. Norman decreed that Alred must graduate from high school, complete training as a welder, submit to regular drug and alcohol tests, wear a drug and alcohol monitoring bracelet, give speeches against drinking and drug use and park himself on a pew every Sunday. If he doesn't, he could find himself behind bars.This isn't the first time an American judge has sent a defendant to church instead of prison. In the 1990s, Louisiana judge Thomas P Quirk sentenced hundreds of people convicted of traffic violations or misdemeanours to attend church once a week for a year, insisting that it was a viable alternative to overcrowded jails or fines they could not afford. The state judiciary commission of Louisiana found that Quirk had flouted the constitution. In 2011, the city of Bay Minette, Alabama, gave misdemeanour first-offenders a choice of church or jail time. The city dropped the programme when constitutional experts complained.

2/1/2013
Irving/Texas
Delaney
Bradley/ Nimtiz
A judge forcing someone to go to church instead of jail should not be considered a violation of the separation of church and state, neither is it endorsing or enforcing the establishment of a religion. All that is really going on is a mandatory involvement in a program similar to that of probation or drug rehab. No one can force you to become a believer in a religion, and just attending services does not mean that you are a member of said religion either. Actually, the judge probably save the teen he sentenced to church a lot of issues later on down the road, because it is a proven fact that once a person goes to jail they increase their chances of having to be re-incarcerated. When the young man was sentenced to church it was no different than going to check in with a probation officer or having to attend a drug/alcohol rehab meeting that he really wouldn't want to be at anyway. And, therefore having the government monitor the young man in church shouldn't be an issue, because the government does the same thing with people on parole or in mandatory court sentenced rehab.

2/1/2013
Irving/TX
Alexis
Bradley/Nimitz
When learning about this this decision a judge made to send a guilty man to church as opposed to prison it made me upset. Society teaches us that when we have made a mistake we must pay the consequences. How can we learn from our mistakes when there are judges being fickle with the law? Why are there laws when you are going to just break our basic constitutional rights? In my eyes the judge's power revolves around instilling the law on those who break it and try to keep order. This judge imp articular has chosen a biased punishment that reflects his religious reviews, that being said this also violates the First Amendment. It is not a judge’s place to force someone to attend a church or any church for that matter that reflects his or her religious views

1/31/2013
Irving/Texas
Zachery
Bradley/Nimitz
If Tyler Alred had a problem with the choice of being forced to go to church, then maybe other people should be getting involved. Though, Tyler and his family seem to have to problems with Tyler going to church every Sunday for the next 10 years. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof” I don't think whatsoever that Judge Norman's punishment is going against that Amendment, the judge is giving Tyler a choice of prison or religion, If he was forcing Tyler to only go to church and that's his only choice, yes there would be a big problem. Though again, Judge Norman is giving Tyler a choice of attending church services for ten years every Sunday or prison. For this reason, Judge Norman is not violating the separation of church and state or is he establishing religion.

1/31/2013
Irving/Texas
Helen
Bradley/Nimitz
.The first amendment gives freedom of religion and in the United States there is a firm belief that church and state should be kept separate. The judge had good intentions by sentencing Alred to go to church but there is no way that our government could monitor that Alred is completing his sentence in church without further entangling the government and the church. Alred is not being forced into a new or different religion but by the judge's verdict, but according to the law no one can force him to attend church. If the judge thought that jail was not appropriate punishment for Alred, then he could have ordered that he go to counseling, but involving the church is against law.

1/31/2013
Irving/Texas
Samantha N. S.
Bradley/Nimitz
Technically speaking, the sentencing does not infringe on the first amendment of the Constitution because the judge did not establish the religion, nor did he force it on Alred since he chose to accept it. The separation of church and state should be interpreted on the basis of individual rights- if the judge should in any way encroach on the right to religious freedom, then perhaps it could be said that he is violating the constitution, but since the judge did no such thing, the “sentencing” should not be considered a violation. The sentencing can't be considered an endorsement of religion because no religion was specified. Although I can see the controversial nature of the decision, if a juvenile has the option of turning their life around, becoming a law-abiding citizen with the opportunity to do and be good, and becoming a productive member of society all outside a call, then I applaud the decision of the judge.

1/31/2013
Texas
Emily P.
Bradley/Nimitz
When a person does something wrong, he should not get the option of how he is punished. A judge can not force anyone to go to church, and he wasn't doing that here. He was giving Tyler the option of church INSTEAD OF jail. Putting aside my beliefs that Tyler shouldn't have gotten the chance to decide which route to take, I believe the judge didn't violate any laws in giving him this particular choice. While we do have freedom to practice whatever religion we want, the judge is serving as a representative of the government, not just an every day citizen. If he were to force Tyler to go to church as his sentence, we would have a bigger issue on our hands because that violates Tyler's natural rights as an American citizen. Because he gave Tyler the OPTION of church instead of jail, Mr. Norman wasn't taking any rights away from Tyler. He wasn't telling Tyler that he HAD to believe in God, and Tyler wasn't given a particular church to attend or belief to practice. If the judge said, "You HAVE to go to the Baptist Church of Oklahoma" or something along those lines, that would not be allowed. He never even said Tyler had to believe what he was hearing in church, so long as he attend the services, hoping that it would eventually lead to Tyler believing. The judge didn't something different than most, but he wasn't violating Tyler's rights, therefore, he was not doing anything illegal.

1/30/2013
Irving/Texas
April S.
Bradley/Nimitz
If Alred does not have a problem with his options, why should anyone else? If people of the U.S. really do have freedom to practice religion, does the judge not have right to suggest his to someone else? It is not an establishment of religion by the government because Christianity has already been established as a religion. The judge is simply trying to make a better way for Alred to live. Sometimes putting people in prison is not the best decision, especially if they made a dumb mistake at a young age. The judge seems to realize that this is true because he gave him this alternative option.

1/30/2013
irving/texas
Samantha S
Bradley/Nimitz
Giving Alred a choice between going to church or going to jail was completely unnecessary, and the judge made a total mistake. I understand that Alred and his family were already attending church so i don't know how this would be a reasonable punishment for his actions, which killed another young man. I also understand that judge Mike Norman was trying to do a good thing but involving god in a case of law is completely not separating church and the law, if anything after reading the background I feel like the judge was trying to do himself some type of joy by sending some one to church and not jail, because of his beliefs. Alred made a mistake and should have to pay for it as a punishment just like many others have, if not pretty soon people all over the country will get away with crimes by staying out in the community but simply just attending church every Sunday. To me this is not fair or smart, and should not be done.

1/30/2013
Irving/Tx
Leslie c
Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing someone to attend church instead of going to jail does violate the Constitution . Because its contradicting what our Constitution says . The Constitution states that their should be a separation of church and state in order to have freedom of religion. This automatically shows that the judge decision breaks the law. The issue whether the judge has established a religion. The judge stated that the teen has to attend church every Sunday .The teen can attend to any kind of church practicing its own religion. So this concludes that the judge can not force someone to go to church instead of prison because the decision will involve church which brings the issue that the judge will had broken the law. So the judge can't establish some kind of punishment involving any object that would cause a violation toward our constitution which includes religion /church.

1/30/2013
Irving / Tx
Steven H
Bradley / Nimitz
This is a very complicated situation. The questions that come up in my mind are those of "What about a murderer?", and "What about a thief?". The only way i see this working is if the judge sees fit that a juvenile that is already of a religion that attends meetings weekly needs some kind of religion in their life. Some prisons have pastors, preachers, or priests that come and try to change prisoners lives around. The reason I said "juvenile" was because i don't think that a 70 year old man who is drinking and driving still would have his mind changed much by going to church every sunday. And the reason i said "that is already of a religion that has meetings weekly" is because someone could lie in court and make up a religion. And the judge could't deny him of that religion because that would break the 1st amendment. And also there is a religion called "Atheism". Atheists do not attend weekly meetings so what happens to an atheist? Are they not allowed this option at all? Because then we are being unfair and unjust in allowing only certain religions to be free of jail time. And what about murderers? If Ted Bundy, mass seriel killer, begged for a chance to be saved by god do we deny him that oppurtunity? There are too many if's, and what about this for this to be ok. I as a christian would love the idea of it but there is no way it can be passed.

1/30/2013
Irving / Tx
Steven H
Bradley / Nimitz
This is a very complicated situation. The questions that come up in my mind are those of "What about a murderer?", and "What about a thief?". The only way i see this working is if the judge sees fit that a juvenile that is already of a religion that attends meetings weekly needs some kind of religion in their life. Some prisons have pastors, preachers, or priests that come and try to change prisoners lives around. The reason I said "juvenile" was because i don't think that a 70 year old man who is drinking and driving still would have his mind changed much by going to church every sunday. And the reason i said "that is already of a religion that has meetings weekly" is because someone could lie in court and make up a religion. And the judge could't deny him of that religion because that would break the 1st amendment. And also there is a religion called "Atheism". Atheists do not attend weekly meetings so what happens to an atheist? Are they not allowed this option at all? Because then we are being unfair and unjust in allowing only certain religions to be free of jail time. And what about murderers? If Ted Bundy, mass seriel killer, begged for a chance to be saved by god do we deny him that oppurtunity? There are too many if's, and what about this for this to be ok. I as a christian would love the idea of it but there is no way it can be passed.

1/30/2013
Benson/AZ
Krystal
Sorensen/Benson High School
I think it would have to be classified as a violation of the First Amendment. The judge had good intentions, don't get me wrong, and the boy's family already goes to church anyway. However, if judges were allowed to continue to make decisions like that...the already fine line between what the government can and can't do would only get finer, which would only lead to chaos and controversy.

1/30/2013
Irving/Texas
Edgar
Bradley/Nimitz
Having a choice between going to church or jail does violate the separation of church and state as there can not be an establish religion. This sentence is more of an establishment of religion as oppose to the endorsement by the government. Since he did not get a choice of what church he was going to attend. The judge should have put him on probation and enforced the other conditions.

1/28/2013
Irving, TX
Timothy
Nimitz/Bradley
As much as this case will be sensationalized by media, the question here is not whether or not this is an endorsement of religion, it is why the judge is not immediately taken off the bench, subject to criminal charges, and the ruling immediately dismissed as a mistrial. It is obvious that the judge offering the sentence of ten years of attendance at Church is contrary to a veritable smorgasbord of rights and basic ideals of religious freedom, separation of church and state, et cetera; however, the obvious course of action for Alfred is to take the church route and leave the court without a way to enforce his attendance at church. Though there is an argument that the defendant is given the choice of jail or church, the simple act of offering the out is a direct endorsement of the Christian church. The ideal behind going to jail or other consequences before the law is to punish and rehabilitate. Therefore the act of offering the option of going to church instead of jail is a direct government endorsement of the Christian church as a way of rehabilitating criminals—a clear violation of the first amendment.

1/28/2013
Irving/Texas
Yessica
Bradley/Nimitz High School
Sentencing someone to church is in violation of the Constitution and the seperation of church and state. Of course the judge is not forcing the teen, it is more like an endorsement, to attend the church, but he straying away from the "required" sentencing for murder. It would not be fair to all the other jail inmates who were denied the oppurtunity of attending a church to establish a connection with a god. I myself am a relegious person, but I dont agree with the fact that going to church should be a punishment, as it states in the Constitution we should have "freedom of relegion" one must desire and determine if they want to go to church, not just go because a judge suggest it. Also if the judge wants the teen to do some "spiritual healing" he can do it behind a jail cell. He commited the a crime he should not have the luxary of having the option of not going to jail.

1/28/2013
Benson/Arizona
Brandon
Sorensen/Benson
I believe a judge can issue whatever punishment he feels is necessary. However I do not believe forcing a criminal to go to church is the right thing to do. That would infringe on the separation of religion and state. If the judge sentenced him to community service at a church that would be one thing, but not a sentence to attend church.

1/28/2013
Irving, TX
Maddie
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that it does violate the first amendment but for good reason. As a christian I believe that everyone needs a higher power that they believe in in their life. It is not said what type of church Alred was forced to go to, so technically he was not asked to go against what he believed. As far as being monitored, it would cause a church/state separation issue. However, this country was built on the foundation of religion, so if the accused wish to choose church over prison, I think it should be allowed.

1/28/2013
Indianapolis, IN
Connor Sullivan
North Central High School
Firstly, congress should not be interpreted. Congress is congress, not the government. They specifically mentioned congress on the basis that they are the law-making body, the leglislative branch. Returning to the topic at hand, however, I do not see this as a breach of First Amendment rights, as the judge is not forcing the defendant to attend church; rather, presenting options to the young man and letting him decide. The young man has the choice to either attend church for 10 years or serve his sentence in jail. Also, the judge did not specifically say which church establishment he was to attend, and merely providing the base punishment of attending a religious service, no matter the denomination. Although he does mention Jeusus, he legally cannot choose an specific religion for the young man.

1/28/2013
Irving/Texas
Wesley
Bradley/Nimitz
Now, the argument may be posed that since Alfred already goes to church, he isn't being forced into religion. But, I would like to point out that giving him two options, jail or church, is forcing Alfred to pick one. Also, it is pretty clear which choice the judge wants the boy to pick. In addition to this First Amendment violation, the idea of “separation of church and state” by which our country operates by is being ripped to shreds here. Truly, if we can't have church in schools then we shouldn't be able to have church in our judicial system. This hypocrisy and capriciousness is quite unjust. Lastly, I want to touch on a non-constitutional topic. Church and religion are not meant as mediums for punishment and rehabilitation. The actual building of a church is meant for fellowship and worship. I love the intentions of the judge for attempting to sprinkle a little Jesus on the convict; but, just by going to a holy institution, in my opinion, is not enough to justify manslaughter and ensure a change of heart. Thus, judges don't have the right to force someone to go to church.

1/28/2013
Benson Arizona
Sabrina
Sorensen Benson High
I think depending on what the person in trouble did that a judge should be able to forse them to go to church. But then aging NO because that is violating one of our rights what if "such person" doesnt believe in God or doesnt believe in the church that he is being forced to go to that is a violation of our rights freedom to choose your own religion to believe and to not believe. So I dont think it is right for that to be forced now that I think about it more.

1/28/2013
Benson, AZ
Kayla
Sorenson
I believe that it is good, but other people have different religions and different views, so inforcing it would be wrong. In this specific case the judge knew his parents so i believe there was nothing wrong in sentancing him for 10 years of going to church. if i was 17 and that happened to me i would be glade to go to church instead of jail, but a lot of regret.

1/28/2013
Irving/Texas
Misael
Bradley/Nimitz
Sentencing someone to go to church is definitely a violation of separation of church and state because forcing someone to go to a church is against their constitutional right. Of course its a much more lenient sentence to go to church instead of jail but it wasn't the judges place to offer that sentence in the first place. This also was an endorsement of the christian church by the constitution and is in direct violation of our first amendment. The judge should have sent Tyler Alred directly to jail for the crime he committed. The judge's duty is lay the law within the boundaries of the law without straying from it.

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