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Which Would You Choose…Church? Or Jail?

jail cell
(Flickr.com)

There’s a new program that a community is trying to implement in Alabama that gives first time misdemeanor offenders a choice.  They can either go to jail and pay a fine or they can go to church every Sunday for an entire year.

It’s on hold right now as legal officials are reviewing it.  But if it does go into effect, it offers quite the choice.  You can either sit in jail or you can spend your time at church every week.  The guilty party would have to be in church every Sunday and check in with the pastor.

It’s called the Restore Our Community (ROC) Program.  But the American Civil Liberties Union says that going to church should not be offered as a way to get out of punishment.

Even if the city offers other sentencing alternatives that are comparable to Operation ROC, which is far from clear, the First Amendment still prohibits the government from becoming entangled in core religious exercise, which includes attending church. — ACLU attorney Heather Weaver

I think it’s a different kind of program and I like it.  Then again, I’m admittedly biased on it.  I go to church as often as I can anyway, so this would be a no brainer for me.  Whether or not it’s legal, I’m not sure.  But this seems like offering a choice is a win/win for the convicted individual.  Then again, it’s bad choices that got them in this situation in the first place.

[ABC News]

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user kangotraveler]

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