"Church" Sentencing Draws Judge Probation - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/21/03 - Gladewater

"Church" Sentencing Draws Judge Probation

Gladewater Municipal Court Judge, Virginia Beason, has had her 90 day probation extended. Beason was put on probation three months ago for what the mayor and city council say is a violation of the first amendment. In lieu of fines, Judge Beason has sentenced some defendants to attend church. Beason believes she has the right, under the deferred adjudication law, to sentence people how she sees fit. Gladewater Mayor John Paul Tallent disagrees.
"I believe that she's in violation of the first amendment," he said. "The first amendment says that we have freedom of religion, but we also have freedom from religion."
"We can't be forced to go to church."
Judge Beason says her main concern is the people.
"If we don't rehabilitate people if we don't get them help, then we are going to see those same people over and over and over again if we do not do something our prison's are full now what is gonna happen."
Beason will be monitored for another 90 days, when the council will make a decision as to her future. The judge says she has no plans to stop sentencing people to church anytime soon.

Chris Gibson, reporting
cgibson@kltv.com

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