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Tyler Alred Sentenced To Go To Church After Manslaughter Conviction

10:36 pm - 11/19/2012
Tyler Alred Sentenced To Go To Church After Manslaughter Conviction

An Oklahoma teen convicted of manslaughter has sentenced to 10 years of probation, with requirements that include regularly attending church.

Tyler Alred, now 17, had been drinking when he crashed a pickup truck at around 4 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2011, Tulsa World reports. The accident killed Alred's friend, 16-year-old John Luke Dum, who was a passenger in the vehicle.

Alred was not legally drunk, but because he was below the legal drinking age, he was still considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol. The high school student pleaded guilty in August to a charge of manslaughter as a youthful offender.

"I did not want to do what I did," Alred told the court prior to his sentencing. "I want to change my life."

Members of Dum's family did not want to see Alred behind bars, the Muskogee Phoenix reported. "We don't need to see two lives wasted for a mistake," Dum's sister, Caitlin, wrote in a statement.

Instead of sentencing the teen to prison time, Judge Mike Norman gave him a 10-year deferred sentence. In order to stay out of prison, Alred must graduate from high school; graduate from welding school; take drug, alcohol and nicotine tests for a year; wear a drug and alcohol bracelet, take part in victim's impact panels, and attend church for the next 10 years.

This last requirement "raises legal issues because of (the separation of) church and state," University of Oklahoma law professor Randall Coyne told the Tulsa World.

University of Tulsa law professor Gary Allison told KTUL that the church requirement "speaks to maybe forcing people to do religious activities that they would otherwise not do on their own free will … I don't know why a church would want to have someone come to it under the force of government,"

This apparently isn't the case for Alred, though. "My client goes to church every Sunday," defense attorney Donn Baker told the court. "That isn't going to be a problem for him."

Source

OP: Is this a huge violation of church and state? Why wasn't he forced to go to AA?
zinnia_rose 20th-Nov-2012 06:09 am (UTC)
I fucking cannot with religion being held up as a paragon of morality. This is batshit crazy.
illusivevenstar 20th-Nov-2012 06:18 am (UTC)
can we not with the ableism?
i_amthecosmos 20th-Nov-2012 06:18 am (UTC)
Well if he goes to church every Sunday anyway, why the hell would it have to be a requirement?
____jonas 20th-Nov-2012 06:20 am (UTC)
Pretty sure you can't actually do this. The most the Court can do, afaik, is mandate that a minor follow rules set by their parents, which could include going to church. But that would end as soon as they were of age (which might be 21 in the context of a juvenile offender, but I'm not entirely sure on that one).
ms_maree 20th-Nov-2012 06:27 am (UTC)
In order to stay out of prison, Alred must graduate from high school; graduate from welding school; take drug, alcohol and nicotine tests for a year; wear a drug and alcohol bracelet, take part in victim's impact panels, and attend church for the next 10 years.



One of these things are not like the other. Oh also, if going to Church works so well in preventing crime, how come a sizeable chunk of the prison population in the USA identify as christian?

Edited at 2012-11-20 06:27 am (UTC)
quixotic_coffee 20th-Nov-2012 07:06 am (UTC)
"One of these things are not like the other. Oh also, if going to Church works so well in preventing crime, how come a sizeable chunk of the prison population in the USA identify as christian?"

The percentage that found religion after being incarcerated is probably pretty high though. I agree with the sentiment that religion does not make one moral/good. But finding religion after already committing a crime doesn't really disprove the idea that going to Church prevents crime.
quixotic_coffee 20th-Nov-2012 07:11 am (UTC)
I really detest drunk driving. I mean it can be so easy to avoid and yet people don't even bother. But I don't think it's right that this guy is being charged for drunk driving based on his age rather than alcohol level. And of course I don't think it's right for a court to tell someone they have to go to church, or the idea that going to church in any way whatsoever makes one a good person. Also, nicotine test?
quixotic_coffee 20th-Nov-2012 07:16 am (UTC)
Also I would have a lot of problems with someone being forced to go to AA. Having to attend some kind of program designed to help you quit drugs/stay sober as a condition of parole, sure, but I wouldn't get behind it specifically having to be AA.
johnjie 20th-Nov-2012 07:38 am (UTC)
Isn't this a violation of the separation of church and state? I mean, seeing as a large proportion of the prison population was Christian before going, it doesn't seem to have prevented them from committing the crimes...

And, wouldn't it be better for him to attend counselling sessions with a professional?

Edited at 2012-11-20 07:41 am (UTC)
natyanayaki 20th-Nov-2012 09:49 am (UTC)
"Isn't this a violation of the separation of church and state?"

That's what I'm wondering, what if the individual, or some future individual who could theoretically sentence similarly, isn't Christian?
akashasheiress 20th-Nov-2012 10:10 am (UTC)
They could have required him to go to some kind of secular support group instead.
gloraelin 20th-Nov-2012 10:22 am (UTC)
Hell, ANY support group chosen by the guy, so long as he attended regularly and built up a support network -- peer pressure can be positive as well as negative. Church just... ugh. What if he changed denominations? or hell, religions?!
moljn 20th-Nov-2012 10:35 am (UTC)
I'm not in the US, but I'm thinking the sentence might just be tailored to him personally, as opposed to pushing religion. Presumably he's expressed plans to go to welding school, ergo the court included that in the sentence to keep him on track. Similarly, attending church may have helped him deal with the whole situation (including the guilt I'm sure he feels), and that part is to keep him in contact with a support system that works for him.

Of course, the guy might feel differently in a few years, so that's a potential problem. I'd hope the sentence doesn't name a specific church or religion, so he's free to go wherever he feels comfortable (and in the case of atheism, there might still be "spiritual" communities that could support and guide him in a way that satisfies the court).

...Or the judge could be a fanatic, but I'd hope not.
ms_maree 20th-Nov-2012 10:42 am (UTC)
'd hope the sentence doesn't name a specific church or religion

The sentence has named a specific religion - churches are Christian.
wrestlingdog 20th-Nov-2012 12:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, preeetty sure this isn't legal.
crossfire 20th-Nov-2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
omg icon love
lovedforaday 20th-Nov-2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
I read this yesterday, saw his picture and thought of course he's white. Can't imagine many other folks other than the white ones being sentenced to church.
angelofdeath275 20th-Nov-2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
In order to stay out of prison, Alred must graduate from high school; graduate from welding school; take drug, alcohol and nicotine tests for a year; wear a drug and alcohol bracelet, take part in victim's impact panels, and attend church for the next 10 years.


..One of these is not like the others
hammersxstrings 20th-Nov-2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
that would be a great punishment if I had broken a law


in all seriousness, though, REALLY? smdh
ultraelectric 20th-Nov-2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
First, it really bothers me that Christians think/believe that one has to go to church. I went to several classes at my ex's church and from what I gathered at those classes, God doesn't believe you have to go to church, it's all about the word of God and walking in it and whatnot. God wants you walking in his word all the time, not just on a Sunday so you can get into heaven.

I like the overall punishment for this kid, I believe we should be implementing this more so than throwing people in prison. But the Church one makes no sense. Church doesn't automatically make you a better person or change you for the better. You can sit there and listen to the word of God all you want but unless your going to act like a better person outside of the Church than there is no point.
bestdaywelived 21st-Nov-2012 03:46 am (UTC)
I support alternative punishments for folks who deserve it. Drunk drivers never learn from their mistakes, and have a high likelihood of reoffending.

Plus, he took a life. It's not stealing a pack of gum or getting busted with a joint, he took a human life with his reckless, stupid actions.
jenny_jenkins 20th-Nov-2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
The requirement is out of line.

I do notice that his family is mentioned. Was this an ADR/sentencing-circle type process like in Canada. Does anyone know? I didn't think you had it in the US.
bestdaywelived 21st-Nov-2012 03:31 am (UTC)
Some states have ARD programs for drunk drivers on their first offense only. I don't remember what it stands for, but it's only for drunk driving and they are always sentenced by a judge.
ladyvoldything 20th-Nov-2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
I actually almost don't mind this too much. It sounds like the court is listening to the wishes of the victim's family and tailoring the sentence to what the kid already does or wants to do, and if he's already religious then that's in keeping with his expressed wishes.

There's also the welding school requirement. What if he decides he wants to switch careers, but can't due to the court mandate?

Not that this isn't a violation of separation of church and state, but as far as such violations go, it's one of the least fucked-up I've seen in a long time.

I do wish they had included language to extend the requirement to any religious building and/or secular support groups or community outreach, though.
furrygreen 20th-Nov-2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
I actually almost don't mind this too much. It sounds like the court is listening to the wishes of the victim's family and tailoring the sentence to what the kid already does or wants to do, and if he's already religious then that's in keeping with his expressed wishes.

I'm a bit ambivalent about the church thing too. I kind of expect that sort of stuff will pop up. I rarely find myself surprised.

I am against this because of the lack of counseling by trained professionals, not by the clergy. The Christian mentality of little to none actual useful dialogue in regards to drugs, alcohol, and sex is really harmful. You just can't get over killing a friend with "give all your concerns to Jesus" or what have you. It leads to repression and that blows up into a worse problem.

He's going to church and he's already drinking. Obviously, the church isn't helping. I'd be more accepting of the church if they also tacked on some kind of counseling.
bestdaywelived 21st-Nov-2012 03:43 am (UTC)
His BAC was .07, and the legal limit for those under 21 is .02. For anyone over 21, it's .08, so even on the "HIS BAC WAS BELOW THE LEGAL LIMIT OMG" folks, he had way more than just one beer before getting behind the wheel.

He deserves jail time for killing another human being. I'm sorry, but as the family member of someone who was killed by a different drunk driving loser, I don't think leniency is appropriate in these cases, EVER. If someone was harder on the piece of shit who killed my aunt on any of her previous DUIs, my aunt and her best friend would be alive right now.

I think the church thing is stupid and frankly unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment, but I'm more bothered by giving a DUI killer basically no punishment than I am about sending this douche to church for 10 years.

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