Alabama Town Enacts 'Jesus or Jail' Plan

Misdemeanor offenders can choose between church and jail
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2011 3:54 PM CDT
Alabama Town Gives Misdemeanor Offenders Choice Between Church and Jail
A small town in Alabama is giving misdemeanor offenders the choice between a year of church-going or jail and a fine.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

(Newser) – Petty offenders can choose between Jesus and jail time in Bay Minette, Alabama. The town kicked off Operation Restore Our Community this week, giving misdemeanor lawbreakers the choice between a year of church-going or fines and jail, Raw Story reports. Pastors invented the program because crime is caused by "the erosion of family values and morals," the town's police chief says. "We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people."

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Alabama's ACLU office calls the plan "blatantly unconstitutional" and is "considering options for response." A Think Progress writer notes that even conservative Justice Antonin Scalia would condemn the plan for using the threat of penalty to coerce participation in religion. But one pastor rebuffed critics, saying, "You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I'll show you a person who won't be a problem to society." (Read more Alabama stories.)

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