Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sentenced to Church

A Kentucky judge is facing criticism for letting some drug and alcohol offenders attend worship services instead of going to jail or rehab.

District Judge Michael Caperton said he's trying "to help people and their families."

He said there's no violation of the separation of church and state because he said "worship services" instead of "church." He also said it's optional for the offenders.

An American Civil Liberties Union lawyer said the practice has "serious constitutional problems." The lawyer said the judge is letting people who go to services avoid jail, while people who decline have to go to jail. The lawyer said that violates the state's required "neutrality" toward religion.

The judge has offered the option about 50 times to repeat offenders. It's unclear what effect the sentence has had.

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