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December 16, 2011

All the world's a sentencing, and all the kids and judges merely players

ImagesCAZX1079With only slight apologies to the Bard of Avon, the title of this post is my peotic riff in response to this local sentencing story from Wisconsin. The piece is headlined "County OKs Shakespeare program for young offenders," and begins this way:

Apparently, the play's the thing. The Milwaukee County Board on Thursday approved a $65,000 Shakespeare program that judges could use as an alternative to jail for young offenders.

Supervisors backed the measure, 11-8, after a lengthy debate in which supporters called on others to have the courage to support something that conservative talk radio and Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. have vilified.

The Shakespeare in the Courts program, however, faces an uncertain fate with yet another foe surfacing. County Executive Chris Abele said he'll veto the measure. It would take 13 votes from the 19-member County Board to override. "Spending money without conclusive evidence or a thorough process seeking out the best diversion programs is not something I can support," particularly given financial pressures on the courts, Abele said in a written response.

The program would train court-referred teenagers to mount an abbreviated Shakespeare play after a six week session, under supervision of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee theater faculty. Modeled after a Shakespeare program in Massachusetts, the local version would help boost self-esteem for participants and teach them to work collaboratively, according to advocates for the program. Diverting just one youth from a year of state incarceration would more than make up for the cost of the program, Supervisor Gerry Broderick said.

Supervisor Patricia Jursik quoted Shakespeare in ribbing Clarke, suggesting his criticism was linked to 2012 budget cuts dealt to the sheriff. Jursik described Clarke as "scrambling on the budget battlefield, shamefully dismounted, yelling: 'My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse.'‚ÄČ" Jursik noted Clarke uses county money for horses in parades.

Clarke called the Shakespeare program "a stupid and insane idea," especially at a time his budget is getting cut. Clarke said no tax money is used for his department's horse rentals. He pays a flat fee for horses that are used in park patrols and parades from asset forfeiture funds, Clarke said.

Opponents said evidence the Shakespeare in the Courts program worked to divert wayward youth from future crimes was lacking and questioned the spending at a time when the overall county courts budget faces a deficit. Critics also said juveniles who have committed crimes such as assault and battery deserve tougher sentences than the Shakespeare program.

Though I do not expect all the comments to this post to be set in iambic pentameter, I do think some Shakespearean riff would be nice to read over the weekend. (some ideas for classic Bard quotes to borrow can be found at this link.) 

December 16, 2011 at 05:53 PM | Permalink

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Though I do not expect all the comments to this post to be set in iambic pentameter

The hell you say.


Shall I compare thee to a prison drear,
This condign sentence that has been assessed
To expiate the laws I have transgressed
In lieu of strait confinement for a year.

Six weeks am I to labor on the stage
Constructing sets and learning how to play
A part imagined in a bygone day
In hopes that I might learn to act my age.

Will it succeed? The future is opaque;
They say that it's helped others find their way
But I've had chances, and gone back astray
The object or the force: which one will break?

Perchance they dream. I fear 'tis vain expense,
But surely there'll be something I can fence.

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein | Dec 16, 2011 11:14:47 PM

Thanks for sharing it the post .I live IN the country where the law alomost is with no rspect

Posted by: best fat burners | Dec 17, 2011 5:34:08 PM

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