Wednesday, August 11, 2004

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. Reuters reports that a federal court in San Fran-I Kid You Not-cisco required a defendant to wear a signboard stating "I stole mail”.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's order, stating that the public humiliation was to "break him of an illusion he had committed a victimless crime.” The defendant is also to write apologies and lecture at a high school.

Thieves steal mail in order to get credit card applications and financial information from their victims. It pays better than soliciting for raffle tickets for a church. I guess he could have just been looking for Playboy or something, but I doubt it.

If he had done this in Botswana, it would have been more painful than embarrassing. Botswana intends to institute floggings in lieu of jail time. It saves a lot of money for housing, feeding, and medicating prisoners like we do in the U.S.

Minor offenses in Botswana already merit caning for minor crimes. Botswana just wants to increase the number of offenses for which you can be paddled.

The thing is, it will probably be effective. It is not that great a punishment for a misdemeanor to spend 10 days in jail watching t.v. and eating candy. Often, misdemeanor offenders are ordered to pay fines and probation fees they never pay. This way, punishment is administered, there is little cost, no record, and everyone goes on its way. Just like when my dad switched me all the way home after he found me down at a little girl’s yard without permission. (There’s always a woman involved, isn’t there?)

Finally, if flogging is not enough to satisfy your appetite for justice, how about cannibalism? In the Philippines, a man and his two sons have been arrested for murder of a neighbor. The police believe the men got mad after the neighbor bumped into a family member at a dance. So, they stabbed him, roasted him over a fire, then ate his ears, tongue and arms. Talk about your self help justice. I’m going to be a lot more careful about bumping into people. I may even call that guy who was selling raffle tickets and ask for a second chance. I don’t want to be singing “I’m Burning For You”.

(Thanks to Mike for the news stories!)
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