Oklahoma Judge Sentences Teenager to Go to Church for 10 Years

Sunday, November 25, 2012
Judge Mike Norman

Oklahoma Judge Mike Norman believes an alternative to incarceration is requiring people to attend church for a mandatory stretch of time.


Norman has handed down church-related sentences several times. But it was his punishment of teenager Tyler Alred that captured national attention, and the opposition of civil libertarians.


Alred, 17, pled guilty to manslaughter after he drove his vehicle into a tree, killing a 16-year-old passenger, John Luke Dum. Alred had been drinking, but was not legally drunk.


Because Alred was prosecuted as a youthful offender, Norman had more discretion in deciding the teen’s punishment.


The judge gave Alred a choice: he could avoid prison as long as he was willing to attend church for ten years, as well as complete high school, train as a welder, and give up alcohol, drugs and tobacco for one year.


Alred says he was happy to take church over prison.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was not happy with Norman’s sentencing, arguing that it represents a clear violation of the First Amendment prohibition against establishment of religion. The ACLU plans to file a complaint against Norman with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, which investigates judicial misconduct.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Constitution Experts Denounce Oklahoma Judge’s Sentencing of Youth to Church (by Erik Eckholm, New York Times)

Judge Tells Okla. Teen Charged With Manslaughter to Attend Church for 10 Years (by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post)

Oklahoma Judge Sentences Teen to Church for 10 Years (by Christina Lopez, ABC News)

Oregon Inmate Sues to Not Live in a Mission (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


lucy M 10 years ago
So.. The American Civil Liberties Union prefers that this young men be sent to prison? If the judge had send him to jail the UCLU will also complaint. I agreed with JK comments.
Chris 10 years ago
@Mark: People are complaining because by out constitution, you are not allowed to do this. I notice how you shuffle "going to church" under the rug as "getting morals". You have your blinders on sir, Church has never been a catalyst for morals.
Karl M 10 years ago
So what would the judge have done with an atheist driver? Could hardly send them to church? Jail only option for them?
Mark 10 years ago
So the judge gave him a choice of going to prison where his life would be over or completing his education learning a trade getting sober and learning morals and people are complaining? Wtf
Jack H 10 years ago
Nobody ordered him to attend church. The judge offered an option that included attending church services as an alternative to prison. "Go to church or go to prison" is not the same, legally, grammatically, or syntactically, as "Go to church."

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