In today’s criminal climate, some judges are wary of just how many individuals are incarcerated for various crimes in the United States. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 2 million individuals were incarcerated for at least a year in 2013.
Many judges across the country are finding that number to be staggering, and the actions they are taking within their courtrooms have gotten more creative.
Here is what happens within the walls of these oddity courtroom sentencings: the judge informs them that, in lieu of jail time, they can perform some sort of act that alternatively punishes them for what they did while implementing the idea of embarrassment so the act will not be repeated.
Shena Hardin, a 32-year old woman in Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to a two-day sign-holding penalty during Cleveland rush-hour traffic. Hardin pleaded guilty to failing to stop for a school bus, and in lieu of jail time she chose to hold a sign that, essentially, regarded her as an “idiot.”
But her sentencing is one in a massive pool of sentencings that date back to the late 1990s. Back in 2008, a Fort Lupton, Colorado judge sentenced noise violators to sitting in a room while listening to Barry Manilow, Barney The Dinosaur, and Glen Close singing opera for an entire hour.
At full volume.
According to Judge Paul Sacco, those who come into his courtroom with similar noise violations suffer the same fate.
Even further back, in 2004 in the state of Texas, a woman by the name of Melissa Dawn Sweeney was actually sentenced to 30 days in jail. But, the creative part of her punishment came in when Judge Mike Peters ruled that part of the sentence would include her surviving off only bread and water for the first three days before blown-up pictures of the horses she starved to death were to hang on the walls of her jail cell.
“It was more than her horses got,” was his official quote when asked about his ruling.
And judges in the United States are not the only ones getting creative: a UK judge sentenced a woman by the name of Amanda McCabe to knitting her way out of jail time. She was found guilty of an altercation that resulted in her getting out of her car during a moment of road rage and punching another woman in the face and resulted in her returning to the courtroom that December with a certain amount of knitted items she would then donate to a charity of the court’s choosing.
What does her crime have to do with knitting? Apparently, McCabe was on her way to garnering more supplies for her yarn-based hobby when her road rage kicked in that fateful day.
Many people wonder whether these types of punishments work and whether they are even legal. The truth is that the U.S. Constitution only bars the use of “cruel and unusual” punishments, and while these types of punishments are hard to monitor, many of the judges proclaim that those they dole out these “humiliation” sentences to rarely find their way back into the courtroom.
Should judges keep utilizing these types of punishments instead of defaulting to jail time? Let us know below!
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay/Public Domain.