Here is an unusual sentence. A 17 year old young man in Oklahoma was sentenced to 10 years of church attendance — in which he was instructed to pray for forgiveness, as part of his sentence for a DUI fatal crash that killed his 16 year old friend.
Click here for the link to a local TV station:
Tyler Allred was 17-years-old when prosecutors say he drove while intoxicated and killed his passenger, a 16-year-old friend.
A judge presiding over Allred’s case sentenced him to attend church every Sunday for the next 10 years. In addition to church attendance Allred must graduate from high school and take drug and alcohol test for the next year.
The teen’s attorney does not plan to challenge the sentence.
In my opinion, the sentence is in violation of the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion, because in this case the court was not only ordering the defendant to church, but he was also telling the defendant what he should pray for. What if Mr. Allred does not believe in organized religion (like several of our founding fathers) and would rather pray to his Creator in an open field? What if he does not believe that God wants prayers for forgiveness? The judge is placing people in positions where they might have to choose between prison or compelled church attendance in violation of their religious beliefs. This is prohibited by our Constitution.
If he was ordered to attend a mosque would there be an outcry about the imposition of Sharia law?
I have to wonder whether the judge felt that by ordering the man to church he would mollify conservative voters who would otherwise demand a tough sentence for a fatal DUI crash.
The teen’s attorney says he will not appeal the sentence, so no court of review will ever rule on the constitutionality of it. It is likely that Tyler was happy to accept any sentence that did not include prison time, so there is no reason for him to appeal it. Basically, everyone is happy, except for the victim’s family, drunk driving opponents and anyone who is concerned about government entanglement with religion.