Saturday, September 24, 2011

Go to church or go to jail

Serve Time In Jail...Or In Church?

BAY MINETTE, Alabama --

Non-violent offenders in Bay Minette now have a choice some would call simple: do time behind bars or work off the sentence in church.

Operation Restore Our Community or "ROC"...begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders elect church, they're allowed to 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.

Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.

So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating in ROC.

Rowland says the program is legal and doesn't violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail...and the church of their choice.
This is so wrong, so blatantly unconstitutional. The offender is given a choice only between church or jail. What if you have no church?  What if your religion is not represented? What if you're an atheist?  What if you're a wiccan solitary?  What if the offender is me, or you, &  we know it's nuts & wouldn't happen where we live?  Maybe ... just maybe .. it could pass constitutional muster if community service was the third option. The "state" is saying you observe an approved religion for one year or go to jail. Your case will be dismissed only if you go to church. But don't think this is some new right wing religion idea. It's the way these people are,  a small town in Alabama. But it's still so wrong that the first person to challenge it will find the ACLU paying legal costs. The town of Bay Minette, if it's too stubborn, will spend  thousands of dollars of taxpayer money defending this ridiculous policy, & lose.

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