crossSo much for do the crime, pay the time. A teenager in Oklahoma, who was convicted of manslaughter after getting in an accident that killed his friend, was sentenced to attend church instead of prison.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Alred, who had a blood alcohol level slightly below the legal limit that night, must go to church services regularly for the next 10 years to avoid getting locked up for the crash that killed passenger John Luke Dum. So much for the separation of church and state.

It's an unusual sentence, to be sure. He must also graduate from high school and welding school and wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his alcohol use. Is it just me or does this not actually seem so bad? I mean, is this even a sentence? Of course there are plenty of people who would balk at being made to go to a religious service, but it sure sounds a heck of a lot better than prison.

Is this an acceptable punishment for such reckless behavior? I don't always feel that locking someone up is the answer, but this certainly doesn't seem like a particular hardship for a kid who wrapped his pickup around a tree. "My client goes to church every Sunday. That isn't going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him," his attorney said. No kidding. Who wouldn't want it. But again, is this fair to his victim or the victim's family, no doubt still reeling from the crash?

I imagine the judge is trying to save who he likely deems a decent kid from total ruin. Prison, of course, is a horrible place, but it's supposed to be. That is what makes it a deterrent. Going to church is a walk in the park in comparison. Why not make him work with at-risk kids or spend time helping victims hurt in drunk driving accidents too. Not that I don't think religion is a good thing. I do. I think it's important. I just don't think it should be used as a get out of jail free card. I wonder if Luke's family feels this is justice. I know I sure don't.

Do you think this sentence was fair? Is it wrong for a court to impose religion on someone?

 

Image via Jeremy Vandel/Flickr