Monthly Archives: November 2012
Less than fifty miles outside of Tusla, Oklahoma, a seventeen-year-old boy was sentenced recently to ten years probation for a DUI manslaughter. In addition to wearing an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption, going to speaking engagements to talk about the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving, graduating from high school, and undergoing regular drug and alcohol screenings, Tyler Alred must also attend church.
A little less than a year ago, Alred was driving drunk when he crashed his truck into a tree, killing his passenger and friend, John Luke Dum. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and manslaughter. He was treated as a minor. As part of his probation, he is required to attend church every Sunday for the next ten years.
The ruling was unusual (and clearly unconstitutional) to say the least, but it does not seem to be uncommon in Muskogee County. District Judge Mike Norman, who was in charge of determining the conditions of Alred’s sentence, has ordered other church sentences in the past, according to the Assistance District Attorney Jim Carnagey.
This is not even all that rare throughout the United States. In 2008, an Iowa judge sentenced a repeat offender to one year probation and eight consecutive weeks of church attendance. As well, there have been cases where people have (successfully) challenged being ordered to go to Alcoholics Anonymous because of its overtly religious message.
In Alred’s case, he is being ordered to go to church, which for him is not all that big of a deal, as we went to church on a regular basis already. He could challenge it though, and it probably would be struck down, but the young man seems to have no intention of doing so.