|Updated: 11/16/2012 9:47 pm
||Published: 11/16/2012 9:43 pm
A Green Country judge is facing criticism for sentencing a teen, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, to ten years of attending church.
Some say the teen deserved a much tougher sentence.
"It was just a deal where there was no winner," said Muskogee County District Court Judge Mike Norman.
He told FOX23 he had a very tough decision to make in his courtroom on Tuesday. There were two families torn by the death of one son and the possibility of losing another to prison.
"If he goes to prison at his age he's going to come out a very different man," Judge Norman told FOX23.
The judge says he did what he thought was right.
"I sentenced him to go to church," he said.
17-year-old Tyler Alred was behind the wheel last December when he hit a tree. His friend, John Dum died in that car accident. Alred had a blood alcohol level of 0.07, which is below the legal limit but Alred is underage.
"So, why church and not prison?" asked FOX23’s Dontaye Carter.
"I felt like it was the right thing to do," he replied.
Judge Norman says this isn't the first time he's sentenced someone to church. He often deals with a lot of parents who fail to pay child support and felons who fail to take care of their court cost. He’s also sentenced them to church. Norman says they have a better chance changing their lives in the house of the lord.
"I believe that being in a church situation puts you in an environment where you can hear things that will change your life," said Boulevard Christian Church Pastor James McCracken.
"I think this is a turning point in this young man's life that he can either turn or go north upstream in to what he's suppose to do as a young man or if he keeps going the way he's going, his life his going to be much different," said Judge Norman.
He believes Alred can find his purpose in church.
But if he doesn’t Judge Norman says the teen will go behind bars.
"If this young man doesn't care to do what I order him to do I will revoke it and send him to the penitentiary,” he said.
Judge Norman says if Alred does violate his probation, he will have to go to prison where he'll have to serve at least 8 years of his sentence before he can receive parole.
Alred has been ordered to stay away from bars, clubs, tobacco products and alcohol.
The judge says it cost about $25,000 to send someone to prison. He says he’s also saving the state money.