December 18, 2006
"I'm dreaming of a jailed Christmas..."
This story in today's Columbus Dispatch provides a holiday twist on an alternative sentencing idea:
The judge calls it a "Holbrook holiday," but for 23 people convicted in his court, it means spending Christmas in jail. As part of their plea agreements to avoid prison terms, the 23 men and women agreed to spend four days including Christmas in the Franklin County jail every year they are on probation.
The idea is to give them a taste of prison to keep them from going there, said Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael J. Holbrook. If they play by the rules, they might not have to go back for a second, third, fourth or fifth Christmas, said Brian Stein, a senior probation officer. If they break the rules, they could go to prison. "He gives us the discretion to decide," Stein said. "It’s an alternative to prison, so I’ve never had anybody really complain."
Holbrook, who was elected in 2004, said he got the idea from a federal prison program in which convicts on probation serve national holidays in lockup. "I wanted to send a message to those who were borderline and may have a chance to go to prison. If they’re not Christian in nature, I can use some other day, like their birthday," Holbrook said. "It’s a reminder of where they could be going, if nothing else."
His sentencing program has been successful. Only two of 15 people failed to appear last year, and five of those who spent last Christmas behind bars have earned a pass this year.
December 18, 2006 at 07:55 AM | Permalink
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It's a novel and peculiar kind of justice. Jailing someone for Christmas seems almost harsh. Though I've heard of family Christmas dinners that were so bad that being in jail for the day sounded like a positive alternative.
Posted by: Christmas Jail | Apr 12, 2008 10:06:04 PM