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January 25, 2008

A chilling alternative sentence

A kind reader sent me this news story discussing a notable altnerative sentence from a court known for creative sentencing.  Here are the highlights:

Nathen Smith sagged in a chair in the Lake County Sheriff's Office lobby, his jacket zipped tight and hands jammed in pockets to fight off his shivering. Seven hours into a 24-hour stint as one of the homeless, Smith was already tired, cold and a little hungry. But he had braced himself for a night of making this chair his home. "It's not that bad," he said. "But I'd hate to have to do this every day, especially in this weather.  It's too cold to do it in this."

Smith, 28, of Painesville is the latest to receive a creative sentence that Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti has made his trademark.  As punishment for stealing one of the Salvation Army's iconic collection kettles shortly before Christmas, Smith was given the choice of the standard sentence of 90 days in jail or spending the next 24 hours as a homeless man.

When Smith chose the latter option, Cicconetti made him empty his pockets and turn over all his money and credit cards.  Court officers strapped a Global Positioning System device to his ankle to monitor his whereabouts.  And he was sent out onto the streets of Painesville with no advice or guidance. "He was like everyone else who finds themselves out on the street," Cicconetti said. "I didn't want him to have any money on him.  I want him to learn. It's not going to hurt to be a little cold."

Weather forecasts predicted 10-degree temperatures with wind chill as low as minus 5.  He was banned from going home or staying with friends.  The GPS system tracked his movements and a printout will be given to the judge when he returns at 11am to serve just three days in jail and learn what community service he must do.

January 25, 2008 at 04:44 PM | Permalink


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reminds of the judge we had here a long time ago who would give people convicted of speeding a choice- pay a fine or walk to Howard Johnson's and back. On court days there would be a line of people walking down the highway.

He finally went over the line, and got in trouble, when he convicted a husband of hitting his wife. The judge gave the husband a choice of a fine or stand there and take a hit from the wife. Stupidly, the husband said he would take the hit, so his wife hauled off and whacked him right in the courtroom.

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Jan 25, 2008 9:30:47 PM

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