A woman in Pennsylvania has been ordered to read the Old Testament as part of her sentence for crashing into a car and seriously injuring two people while she was drunk, according to The Herald.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles sentenced Cassandra Belle Tolley to eight years in jail followed by five years of probation and substance abuse counseling. She is also required to read the Book of Job and write a summary.
The 28-year-old woman, who pleaded guilty and expressed remorse at her trial, agreed to read the Book of Job, which tells the story of the unjust suffering of a faithful man. If Tolley had not consented to read the Biblical story, the judge would not have been able to tack it onto her sentence.
“Under normal circumstances, the judge wouldn’t have the authority to do that,” Kenneth Gaines, a University of South Carolina professor of law, explained to The Herald. “You can’t just arbitrarily add anything you want to a sentence.”
The story of Job is particularly relevant for Tolley, who was regularly abused by her family. When she was only 11-years-old, a relative doused her in gasoline and set her on fire. Tolley said she turned to alcohol to cope with her traumatic past.
When she drove in the wrong lane in November 2011 and crashed into another car, permanently wounding both inside, her blood alcohol concentration was 0.333. She also tested positive for the anti-anxiety medications Ativan and Klonopin.
“I think [Nettles'] faith and his compassion led him to use the book of Job,” Tolley’s pastor said. “Job made it through, and he wants her to know she can too.”
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