Church and State (Penitentiary)

John Luke Dum, was killed when his friend, Tyler Alred, crashed the pickup truck they were in at about 4:00 am on December 3, 2011. The teenager from Oklahoma had been drinking and although he was not legally drunk, he was charged with a DUI because he was below the legal drinking age and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The Huffington Post found his recent sentencing interesting enough, to post it in their “Weird News” section. Along with 10 years of probation, Alred must graduate from both high school and welding school, take drug and alcohol tests for a year, participate in victim’s impact panels, and among other details, he must attend church.

The judge deferred his prison time and Dum’s family supported the decision, “not to see two lives wasted for a mistake.” While the leniency has not raised eyebrows, the inclusion of mandatory time in church, has people questioning if this sentence violate the separation between church and state. According to the Huffington Post, Alred’s attorney said they have no issues with the sentence as the teen already goes to church every Sunday.

Does it matter that the defendant is compliant with the sentence? Should a judge be allowed to enforce a sentence that is religious in nature, or perhaps he should have sentenced him to time in the public library? What are your thoughts?

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