Jail or Jesus? Inmates Given Option to Attend Church

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Jail or Jesus? That's the question now being proposed to criminals in Bay Minette, Ala.

A new program called "Operation Restore Our Community" allows misdemeanor offenders to work off their sentences in prison or by going to church.

If an offender elects time in church over time in jail they are required to attend a weekly service for a full year.

Weekly check-ins are also required with the pastor and the police department.

"It's an opportunity for people who have made some mistakes that can really transform their lives," explained Pastor Robert Gates of Christian Life Church. "You show me somebody who's fallen in love with Jesus and I'll show you a person who won't be a problem to society, but that will be an influence and a help to those around them."

"A 30 day drug program doesn't work. A 30 day alcohol program does not work. But long-term programs do work, and we believe that's what will happen here," added Bay Minette Police Chief Michael Rowland.

Under the program, if the one year church attendance is completed successfully, the offender's case will be dismissed.

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