A Better East Texas: 'The Heart of the Problem'

By Pat Stacey

I read an on-line story about a Houston criminal court judge that offered defendants an alternative to working a number of community services hours as part of their convictions.  The Judge, John Clinton, offered to release those defendants from their community service work if they would read a specific book and then return to court to discuss the book with the judge.  Judge Clinton, admitted that his goal was to attempt to mold the punishment to help those involved and not just set them up for future failure.  Well the A-C-L-U and a host of criminal defense attorneys lined up to protest the offering by the judge saying the action was unconstitutional and unfair.  It all went back to the book it self – titled The Heart of The Problem – which as it turns out is a Christian Bible study book.  Now keep in mind that the defendants were not forced to read the book, only offered the book study as an alternative to community service hours.  In the end the judge was determined to be legally wrong but is now searching to find other options with the goal of making a difference in the lives of those that pass through his courtroom.  It is too bad that the judge cannot even have that as an option in a courthouse that, no doubt, uses the Bible to swear in elected officials.  The hypocrisy is evident and it needs to end and that will make for a Better East Texas.