17-year-old Tyler Alred, from Oklahoma, is legally bound to go to church for the next 10 years, after being found guilty on a manslaughter charge.
In 2011, specifically on December 3, at 4 a.m., Alred drove his pick-up truck while under the influence of alcohol, crashing it, Muskogee Phoenix
writes. The incident ended the life of 16-year-old John Luke Dum, Alred's friend.
Alred stood trial for his actions, as a juvenile. In August 2012, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The night of the accident, two breathalyzer tests were performed – one showed blood-alcohol content of 0.06 and the other revealed a 0.07 alcohol concentration.
Even as he didn't drink enough to break the legal drinking limit, the judge still took into consideration the drinking, as Alred is underage.
“I know my words cannot bring him back. [...] I did not want to do what I did. I want to change my life. I have changed my life,” Alred said in court, addressing the Dum family.
The judge took his plea as a sign of good faith and awarded him no prison time. Victims' impact statements revealed that the Dums did not wish Alred imprisoned.
“The issue you have, judge, is whether we’re going to destroy two lives. [...] One we can’t do anything about. The other, like they said, you’re the judge, so it’s up to you,” Alred’s attorney, Donn Baker, stated in court.
Judge Mike Norman did impose conditions for his release, such as: graduating from high-school, welding school, submitting to drug, alcohol and nicotine tests for the following year and attending victim’s impact panels.
The last, more controversial condition for Alred's release requires him to go to church at least once weekly, for the next 10 years. According to KTUL
, the issue raises questions about whether a person may be legally bound to attend religious ceremonies, since church and state should remain two separate institutions.
“One, it speaks to maybe forcing people to do religious activities that they would otherwise not do on their own free will. So, that puts pressure on them to do something that they wouldn't normally do and I don't know why a church would want to have someone come to it under the force of government,” Gary Allison, a law professor at Tulsa University says.