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January 21, 2009

A creative musical approach to alternative punishment

220px-BarryManilowA kind reader sent along this interesting aternative sentencing story, headlined "He writes the rules that make their eardrums ring."  Here is the start of an enjoyable article:

The guiding principle in Municipal Judge Paul Sacco's courtroom is an eye for an eye. Or rather, an ear for an ear.

So when teenagers land in front of him for blasting their car stereos or otherwise disturbing the peace in this small northern Colorado city, Sacco informs them that they will spend a Friday evening in his courtroom listening to music -- of his choosing.  No, they can't pay a fine instead, he tells them. So, he adds with a snicker, ever heard of Barry Manilow?

For the last decade, Sacco, 55, has administered a brand of justice somewhere between "cruel" and "unusual."  Young people in Fort Lupton know that if they're caught, they're in for a night that could begin with the "Barney" theme song, move on to an opera selection and end with Boy George's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me."

Sacco's answer to that last question: Yes, he does.  Or rather, he wants a little payback to the scofflaws blaring their tunes without regard for their neighbors -- a vexing habit in this blue-collar community of about 8,000, said Police Chief Ron Grannis.

For a while, Sacco -- a part-time judge who also has a law practice -- issued tickets, $95 apiece, to the noise violators.  But one day, as he ordered a teenager to pay a fine, he realized the kid's parents, flanking him, would probably just pay it for him.  "It just seemed I was a rubber-stamper," he said. "I hate that."

What he really wanted to do, Sacco thought, was give the kid a dose of his own medicine.  And the "music immersion" sentence was born.  The concept was simple: Stick the kids in a room -- on a night they'd rather be out socializing -- and turn up the volume.

Manilow immediately came to Sacco's mind.  Not because he disliked Manilow, but because he knew they would. But the playlist also features other artists, mostly selected for their ability to annoy the younger set.

January 21, 2009 at 07:06 AM | Permalink


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What happens if a kid comes before him who had been listening to Barry Manilow at loud volume? A night of having to listen to nu metal and rap?

Posted by: Zack | Jan 21, 2009 11:00:46 AM

Because, if Barney is good enough to psychologically break down prisoners of war, it is good enough for use as punishment for minor offenses?

Posted by: mcapla1 | Jan 21, 2009 7:37:10 PM

Doesn't Barney constitute torture under federal law?

Posted by: Dan Williams | Apr 10, 2009 10:57:41 PM

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