Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC” . . . begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemeanor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.
If offenders elect church, they’re allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.
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So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating in ROC.
Rowland says the program is legal and doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail . . . and the church of their choice.
As legal scholar Eugene Volokh notes , this is clearly unconstitutional: “[T]hats a parody of the concept of ‘choice’ again, one might as well say that a law that tells everyone, ‘go to church every week or youll go to jail’ is constitutional because it lets citizens ‘choose’ whether to go to church or to jail.”