Jesus or jail? Alabama town offers options for serving time
An Alabama town is offering low level crimals a choice - Jesus or jail.
September 27th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Jesus or jail? Alabama town offers options for serving time

(CNN)–If you're charged with a nonviolent crime in one Alabama town, you might just have the chance to pray it all away.

Starting this week, under a new program called Operation ROC (Restore Our Community), local judges in Bay Minette, Alabama, will give those found guilty of misdemeanors the choice of serving out their time in jail, paying a fine or attending church each Sunday for a year.

The goal of the program is to help steer those who are not yet hardened criminals the chance to turn their lives around. Those who choose to go to church (there are no mosques or synagogues in the area) will have to check in with a pastor and the police department each week, CNN affiliate WKRG reported. Once you attend church every week for a year the case would be dismissed.

Police Chief Mike Rowland said the measure is one that would help save money and help direct people down the right path. Rowland told WKRG it costs $75 a day to house each inmate.

Read the full story from CNN's This Just In.
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Filed under: Bible • Church and state

soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Voice of Reality

    Jesus is coming soon......he's been jerking off for half an hour already! 🙂

    December 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Gemima

      Darn it, I was hoping he would come inside of me. How are you supposed to let Jesus in if he won't come inside of you? It's supposed to be the greatest feeling ever.

      December 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  2. Salt lick

    The culprit is a catholic...caught by a catholic police defended by a catholic lawyer and convicted by a catholic judge....The punishment for a crime he didn't commit is death.Wow whatta religion....!!

    December 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  3. Kenny Jorayta

    If you live in Alabama and commited a crime,don't let your ass caught or else you will suffer both physical and spiritual.

    December 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  4. Smells like Frances Bean has been takin a dump.

    I would rather go to jail so the Warden can punish my ass with his big ole D!CK!! Yummy!

    November 28, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  5. travelinpants

    Really, why do you have to choose.. you can have both!!

    November 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  6. travelinpants

    If it works that is fine as long as ALL people who have misdeameanor offenses are given this opportunity. But being that it is in ALABAMA, I doubt it.

    November 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Hayley

    This conflicts with the separation of Church and State. This is illegal and I hope it is stopped soon.

    November 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • PleaseUseLogic

      I suppose they could offer a similar allowance for mass, temple, etc for other religious services. However, I think locals would find that unpalatable. Also, to be perfectly stereotypical and/or racist towards Alabama, I'm guessing that 99% of criminals in Alabama would describe their family's religious background as "Christian". I'm going out on a limb and guessing that almost no criminals in Alabama would describe their family's religious background as Hindu, Bhuddist, Jew, etc. Also, I would further guess that the ratio would magically change if you compared it to people in Alabama with a MD, PhD, JD, etc.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Cat

      I'd be okay with this concept if there were a) other choices then just a Christian Church. Public service at a soup kitchen weekly, hours at a homeless shelter- things along those lines along with other religious services, not just Christian ones. As it stands this is simply a violation of rights. "Either pray with us or go to jail."

      December 13, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  8. Just a person

    My religion is SIRI. I only do what the voices on my cell phone tell me to do.

    October 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  9. HijodeElElyon


    October 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Rick

      So are other belief systems

      November 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  10. Justen

    So basically, Bay Minette legalized misdemeanors for practicing christians. That's awesome.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • SGovern

      You err in your understanding of what they're trying to do.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  11. Light!

    Evolution is a science, but it's mostly a theory which can't be established without a good bit of guessing. It's being taught as fact; many posts here speak with such dogma as though it's fact. The truth is that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it takes to believe in God! Someone was just speaking of missing links, there has not been one, and there will never be a missing link! All that's currently being discovered is that since the earliest fossil of man, we've always looked the same physically. Try to prove how man has evolved intellectually when we only recently figured out how to build a pyramid the way they did in Egypt over thousands of years ago. Last, let me enlighted readers about how to make a fossil; you cover it with salt water for a long period; this will preserve it. So continue to mock the flood if you'd like, but make a fossil without it!

    October 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • FriendlyNeighborhoodAtheist

      Dear Creationist:
      Only one thing in your post comes even remotely close to making sense: Evolution is indeed a theory. The rest is complete, utter nonsense. All sorts of 'missing links' have been discovered – you might want to google up Australopithecus Afarensis, for instance, and relieve some of your ignorance. I don't know about you, but I and my family look nothing like Lucy, so your point about unchanged physical appearance is as flawed as your argument about man's intellectual progress – if we only built pyramids thousands of years ago, and today we fly into space, do brain surgery and manipulate genes, something appears to have gone on in the meantime. Finally, you by no means need salt water to make fossils. You need minerals deposits and lots of time. Salt could be one of your minerals, but does not have to be at all. Again, check your nearest library for some ignorance-relieving books, which you appear to desperately need.

      October 22, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Just a person

      Why is it that we have to disbelieve in the science of our bones to believe in God?

      October 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • travelinpants

      Just A.., Light, Science is the study of what God has already created and still does create!!!. If you want to know the origin of anything on this planet, you will run into an intelligence that is beyond belief for many, many people. The intentional design of organisms and our universe are impeccably in order and evidence of the Creator! Mans arrogance never ceases to amaze me. When man can accept that there is a power greater than himself, then he can submit to the awesome power of God. Besides as scientists discover this world, the are indeed discovering God in all His Glory!!! One more point, did you ever wonder why a child questions his/her parent or looks to them for those really hard answers and then when child gets around 35 years old or so, married and with children themselves, they realize that their parents where right all along. How long does it take for a race of people to get to this point in their relationship with God??????

      November 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  12. Carol Rivermoon

    Sooo...If you're a Druid and they dont HAVE weekly meetings, would the 'deal' not apply ? what about Wiccans ? Of course both those groups would be welcome at most Unitarian Universalist gatherings !

    October 19, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  13. Shadow

    Wow, this has to be illegal. This promotes religion over non-religion. There would have to be a non-jail, non-fine option for non-religious people to make this even kind of okay. These judges need to be disbarred. They are imposing their personal belief structure onto others. This is inexcusable in the United State.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Chelsey

      there's a real easy way to fight this horrible christian dictatorship and make it fare for followers of all religions!!!! DON'T COMMIT ANY CRIMES!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Goddess IsIs

    google search: religion is a mental illness.
    google search: Bible warning label

    October 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  15. Goddess IsIs

    Powerful! Important information.

    When we buy into Non-Indigenous Non-Asiatic Non-Aboriginal Cultural and/or Religious Concepts, invariably we also consciously or unconsciously buy into their sick perverted world views to our collective detriment.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  16. Keith

    WOW. THAT one is a CLEAR violation of seperation of church and state. This is precisely the type of thing the Founding Fathers were AGAINST. Somebody imposing their religion upon somebody else. Who are these self-righteous judges who blew it BIG TIME? If they hadn't been so self-righteous they would have realized they needed to create a program of community service and other options that didn't include religion.

    So what's next? Oh, if you attend church every week then we know you MUST be innocent of any crime?

    October 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • chasbed

      I don't see the imposition you are talking about. It is a choice- go to Jail or to Church. No one compels anyone.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Tony

      I'm sure that Benjamin Franklin is rolling in his grave at the Episcopalian church in Philadelphia that he chose to be buried at.

      October 25, 2011 at 4:30 am |
  17. Maya

    People seem to be missing the point. It is irrelevant whether or not going to church would reduce their likelihood of committing future crimes. An American court of law has absolutely no business promoting one religion over another (in this case, Christianity) or even religion in general. Furthermore, they have no business giving preferential treatment to Christians (or at least people willing to listen to a Christian sermon).

    October 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  18. Red

    So Jimmy-Jack Johnson who spray-painted the F-Word on the public library is gonna sit in Church every Sunday for a year, counting the seconds until it's over? I'd take it...gets your ass outta bed, too...

    October 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  19. mike smith

    Would this include Mormons?

    October 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  20. Jessica R

    The columnist George Will once wrote an article citing a study showing that religious training does reduce crime levels. (Religious people still commit more crimes than atheists, but that is because religious people tend to come from socio-economic backgrounds in which crime is more common. But they would commit more crimes if they didn't have religion.) Religion also offers supportive communities, which many people need, especially in our culture in which the family has broken down and people don't even know the names of their neighbors. While the judge is wrong to violate the establisment clause of the First Amendment, he is correct that many people are helped by being in religious communities. And jail is so dangerous and destructive that many people would be better off in church.

    October 9, 2011 at 6:55 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.