Most people are aware of the concept that committing crimes will result in some form of punishment. There are also a number of people who think that most criminals will receive a generic punishment from the government that is proportionate to the crimes they committed. This is ideal, but it doesn’t always work that way. Yes, there are some people who literally get away with murder. However, there are also some people who have received harsh punishments for crimes that were pretty minor.
Since there are some cases in which people are severely punished for doing things that the general public doesn’t see as “that bad,” this could serve as a way to deter young people (and some older people) from engaging in a life of crime. Of course, there are some people who are still a little more daring when it comes to breaking the law, which is likely why strange and extreme punishments are often doled out to them.
Want to know what it could cost you if you steal something from your local gas station? Ever wondered what the punishment could be if you took a farm animal for a walk in your neighborhood? Here are 12 of the most bizarre punishments for committing crimes.
12 Listening to Music As Punishment for Disturbing the Peace
Police have to deal with loud music complaints often, and it can be pretty annoying to have neighbors who don’t know how to keep the noise down when they’re having a party. A Colorado judge decided to solve this problem in the community by sentencing criminals to listen to loud music. Judge Paul Sacco sentenced several offenders to loud music for one hour, so they could see just how nerve-racking it can be. Some of the songs on the playlist included hits by Barry Manilow. Let’s face it; you either love or hate Manilow's music, and there are lots of people who aren’t exactly fans. The offenders also had to listen to the theme song from Barney, and we all know how irritating that can be.
11 Arresting an Entire Courtroom Over a Phone
In 2005, Judge Robert Restaino was hearing a domestic violence case. The offenders in the case were ordered to update the judge every week. During one of the updates, a cell phone started ringing, and no one made an effort to silence the phone or to own up to the fact that it was his/her phone. Judge Restaino got frustrated and decided to kick everyone out of the courtroom—and into jail. All because no one claimed the cell phone or put it on silent mode. There were 46 people total, and the judge later released them after he’d calmed down. Judge Restaino was also dismissed from his job because of a commission. After all, his punishment was pretty harsh, not to mention ridiculous.
10 Five Christmases in Jail for Fraud
Betina Young, a resident of Ohio, was accused of selling counterfeit drivers licenses and ID cards to illegal immigrants in 2013. By the time she was caught, Young had given 95 fake identification cards out, and pleaded guilty to five counts of tampering with records. The punishment for each of these offenses is normally 15 years behind bars. However, Judge Michael Holbrook took a different approach in this case. He fined Young $3,000 and placed her on probation. She was also ordered to spend at least three days in jail every year for the next five years. Young’s jail time was to always fall during the Christmas holidays. The sentence was nicknamed Holbrook Holidays, and apparently, this type of punishment is not new for the judge. He has issued about 40 similar sentences, and is sure to find out the offender’s favorite holiday before issuing his punishment. He states that this has been an “alternative and effective” way to discipline criminals in the state of Ohio.
9 A Haircut for Harassment
When 13-year-old Kaytlen Lopan and her friend saw a 3-year-old in the play space of a McDonald’s in Utah, they decided to taunt her and then chop off the toddler’s long blond locks. Judge Scott Johansen was presiding over the case, and he ruled that he would reduce Lopan’s sentence if she agreed to chop off her hair as well. Kaytlen was brought before the court and her mother, Valerie Bruno, started cutting her daughter’s ponytail. The mother of the 3-year-old said that it wasn’t short enough, so the judge ordered Bruno to continue cutting her daughter’s hair. Kaytlen’s mother went on to sue the judge, which is pretty ridiculous, seeing as how her teenage daughter had no business cutting off a child’s hair. Looks like Lopan saw Mean Girls, one too many times.
8 Facebook Apology for Name-Calling
Mark Byron, a Cincinnati photographer, called his estranged wife names on Facebook, including “vindictive” and “evil.” Judge Paul Meyers ruled that Byron had in fact broken the law, because he violated the temporary protection order that his wife had been granted. The judge also informed Byron that he could be facing 60 days behind bars, along with a $500 fine. Or, he could catch up on his child support payments and post a Facebook apology to his wife—for 30 consecutive days. Mark Byron ended up only posting apologies for 26 of those 30 days, but another judge in the case ruled that this was sufficient.
7 Knitting Sweaters for Slashing Tires
An elderly German woman initiated her own strange sentence after what was considered, for her age, a bizarre crime. Heidi Kohl, who was 89 years old in 2008, was sick of the fact that her neighbors always parked on the street directly in front of her house. One night, she decided to handle the problem herself and slash the tires of several cars on her street. Some sources say that Kohl got to around 50 vehicles. A neighbor witnessed her committing the crime and turned her in. Kohl confessed, and claimed that she was sick of navigating around so many cars just to cross the street, and stated that she felt unsafe. Originally, she was charged with more than one fine, but since Kohl knew she didn’t have the money, she offered to knit sweaters for the people whose tires she’d slashed. Later, Heidi Kohl was moved to an elderly care facility.
6 Picking Cotton for Traffic Violations
Cotton is a major crop in Uzbekistan, and during the harvesting season, it’s hard to find people who are willing to pick it. Recently, the government in Uzbekistan has gotten a lot of scrutiny from Human Rights supporters who state that children are often the ones who have to pick the cotton. The country also lost a number of Western buyers who refuse to do business with the company because they don’t want to support child labor. These companies include Levi Strauss and Gap. Uzbekistan has started a campaign to encourage adult workers to help out during cotton picking season, and the country has gone as far as closing shops in the region until 7:00 in the evening, so that laborers won’t leave the fields early. Traffic violators are also ordered to work in the fields. A number of European news sources reports that traffic inspectors in Uzbekistan have been instructed to suspend the driver’s licenses of traffic offenders and send them to the cotton region for about a week to aid in the harvesting. After they’ve “done their time,” they get their licenses back.
5 Tweeting for Online Offenses
In May of 2012, two politicians in France won a conviction against one of their critics. Apparently, the individual had been calling the politicians offensive names on Twitter. He was ordered to pay a fine and cover court costs, and the judge also ordered this political critic to Tweet the same message over 30 days, 446 times. The critic was ordered to Tweet: “I have severely insulted Jean-Francois Cope and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. I regret and apologize.” Unfortunately, this still doesn’t make some people think twice before posting negative or less-than-smart comments on social media. However, it’s pretty safe to assume that the offender in this case learned his lesson.
4 Writing a Biblical Book Report for Driving Drunk
Cassandra Tolley, a resident of South Carolina, was tried when she seriously injured two people because she was driving under the influence of alcohol. Tolley got eight years in the slammer for her offense. In addition to this, the judge also assigned some work for Tolley to do while she was locked up. She was required the read the entire Old Testament and write a book report on the story of Job. Tolley’s pastor told CBS that “Job made it through, and [the judge] wants her to know she can, too.” Looks like the judge actually wanted Tolley to learn something while she was locked away.
3 Marriage for Domestic Abuse
Apparently, some judges think that the solution to domestic violence is for couples who are in domestic disputes to get married. Yes, you read that right. In 1995, Scott Hancock was accused of punching Yvonne Sevier, his then-girlfriend, in the mouth. Hancock was ordered by Judge Albert Mestemaker, to marry Sevier within nine months of the sentence. The judge stated that his decision was based on “traditional American values.” The public was so astounded by Judge Mestemaker’s decision that he rescinded it. He also said that he’d never issued the order and said that it was “not enforceable.” However, the order shows that the judge wrote that Hancock should “sanctify their relationship with a wedding.” Unfortunately, this was not the first time the judge did this. That same year, he ordered a woman who was charged with domestic violence to marry her three-year-old son’s father.
2 Prison Time for Charging a Cell Phone
Darren Kersey, a Sarasota man who was homeless, and charged with theft, was arrested and put in jail—because he used an outlet at a public picnic area to charge his cell phone. Anthony Frangioni, the police officer who made the arrest, defended himself by saying that “the theft of city utilities will not be tolerated during this bad economy.” Of course, Kersey had to stay in jail overnight because he couldn’t afford to post bail, which was $500. The next day, the judge threw out the case, because as it turns out, Officer Frangioni had no right to arrest Kersey, since he was using public property.
1 Walking a Donkey for Vandalism
In December of 2002, Brian Patrick and Jessica Lange vandalized the nativity scene that was featured in front of Fairport Ohio’s St. Anthony Catholic Church. Both were 19 at the time, and stabbed the baby Jesus before scribbling “666” on the forehead of the doll. Early the next year, the two teens confessed to the crime. Their punishment was replacing the statue, and to lead a donkey through the streets of Fairport—similar to what Mary and Joseph did the night Jesus was born. Judge Michael Cicconetti stated that the punishment wasn’t to uphold religious ideals, but rather to punish the young people using public humiliation. Mission accomplished.