Target: Judge Mike Norman
Goal: Stop sentencing criminals to church attendance in lieu of prison time
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, Judge Mike Norman is known for sentencing people with minor misdemeanors to church for probation. However, Norman, 67, recently sentenced a youth to 10 years of church service for a driving-related manslaughter case. After the ruling, people were angry at the judge for giving the minor such a light punishment. Constitutional experts nationally were also condemning the judge for mixing church and state so easily.
The minor in the case is 17-year old Tyler Alred who crashed his car into a tree, killing the 16-year old passenger with him. Alred was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash and although his alcohol limit was not above the legal limit, since he is underage, he was charged for a D.U.I. Alred pled guilty and chose to attend church for 10 years in place of a 10 year prison sentence. Alred would also need to finish high school and train as a welder as a part of his sentence.
People are upset over the judge’s decision to deal with manslaughter so lightly. Even though Alred is a minor, his actions killed someone and he should be punished justly. Furthermore, by forcing him to attend church, the judge is mixing church and state and jeopardizing the tradition of a secular nation.
According to the New York Times, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union branch in the state Ryan Kiesel stated: “Alternative sentencing is something that should be encouraged, but there are many options that don’t violate the Constitution…A choice of going to prison or to church – that is precisely the type of coercion that the First Amendment seeks to prevent.”
Judge Norman should acknowledge that sentencing criminals to church as their punishment is unconstitutional and he should stop doing so. Judge Norman should not mix church with state within a secular nation and must stop this at once.
Dear Judge Mike Norman,
Your recent sentencing of 17-year old Tyler Alred to church for 10 years is unconstitutional. Alred pled guilty to manslaughter for crashing his car into a tree and killing a 16-year old passenger. He was under the influence of alcohol and should not have been behind the wheel. Asking him to choose between church and prison is unfair because one is significantly easier and simpler.
On top of that, you are mixing church and state. The state cannot and should never have the power to enforce someone to attend church. Religion is a personal choice, one that exists outside of government. By allowing criminals to attend church as their punishment, you are forcing religion onto them. You have to stop giving criminals the option of attending church over imprisonment.
[Your Name Here]