Monday, June 06, 2005

Nice To Have Some Choices

District Judge Michael Caperton of Kentucky has been getting a lot of attention recently for his use of alternative sentencing when it comes to drug and alcohol offenders. Instead of going to jail or rehab, a convicted person has been given the option of going to church. This raises several different issues that I can stand behind both sides on:

I do believe in separation of church and state. And even though this judge has used the phrase "worship services," there's likely only so many facilities for worship in a Kentucky town. Also, isn't it saying that correctional institutions and therapy are worthless? You also can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. I remember myself as a child going to Catholic church and how I'd fidget in my seat just thinking of what I'd do when I got out of there. The other odd thing about this is that the sentencing isn't mandatory. So, you get the choice of mandatory jail, mandatory rehab or voluntary church-going? What would you pick?

On the other side, I see a nation of ours that fills their jails with people possessing, selling and using substances that our government has deemed illegal (and not so illegal in other states.) A lot of money goes into housing these people while their productivity in society is cut to nil. These people lose homes, possessions and jobs while in the pokey. There is also the idea out there that if you send someone to jail for a petty crime that they will learn from and associate with people who have done far worse.

If anything, it is good to see someone trying something different even if I'm unsure of the possible results. It makes people that accept the status quo think a little outside the box.


Unknown said...

So like if I am agnostic or atheist or Buddhist isn't that forcing a religion on me? Isn't that exactly what seperation of church and state meant to prevent, a state sponsored religion, in this case Kentucky's religion. Even if you are given a variety of choices, worship services, you are still mandating that I go and worship. What if i don't believe in worship?

Teri said...

Interesting... I agree that something else needs to be done, but I am not sure this is the solution. Faith has helped a lot of people straighten out their lives, but I am not sure that it will work if it is forced upon you. It is kind of like going on a diet, it will only work if you want to change, not by having people tell you that you need to change.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if someone tellin you that you need to change would be very productive, but here's the way I look at it. On one hand, you get stuck in jail and yes, you're around people who have done worse. Most likely all this will do is teach you where your criminal limit is, and get advice from those who got caught on how NOT to get

But if you're either goin to church or volunteering somewhere, you'll be hangin with a better crowd of people during your "sentence". You can't tell me that gettin invited to the church's weekly bring a dish get together wouldn't have a big effect of someone. Have you ever been to one of those? Damn those ladies can cook.

LoraLoo said...

I'd like to come back after some time has passed and see the success rate of his alternative sentences.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was raised Catholic and have started going to a Christian church (which I haven't been to in a while, I suck.) But I do think it sucks that now day's there's always something against religion. Well, I know it's always been there, but taking out "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and stuff like that really gets to me. I guess I just think I should have been born in the hippy peace day's.

I personally think the Judge is doing something awesome. And he is not forcing religion, my friends. If you read again, they are given a choice.