I Sentence You to Summarize the Book of Job

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Written By admin at Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Associated Press

Cassandra Belle Tolley was driving drunk in the wrong lane last year when she crashed into another car, seriously injuring two people.

At the time of the November 2011 crash in Rock Hill, S.C., Ms. Tolley’s blood alcohol level was 0.333, more than four times the legal limit, reports The Herald. A reportedly remorseful Ms. Tolley pleaded guilty, unsurprisingly. It was the sentencing late last month that came as a shock to many.

Judge Michael Nettles sentenced Ms. Tolley, a Christian, to eight years in jail, five years of probation, substance abuse counseling and — here’s the unusual part — to read the Old Testament Book of Job and write a summary.

Ms. Tolley said she turned to alcohol after years of abuse by a relative when she was a child. When she was 11, a relative doused her with gasoline and set her on fire on Thanksgiving Day, leading to visible burn scars on her face.

While Ms. Tolley’s attorney, Amy Sikora, a York County public defender, told the newspaper her client is grateful for the extra assignment, to which she readily consented, there are some legal experts who decry the use of such “creative sentencing” as an abuse of judicial power.

State codes have provisions for the imposition of either fines, community service, jail, or probation. However, judges are given a fair amount of discretion to tailor the sentence around the individual.

The WSJ  recently reported on another court-ordered written assignment: a former pharmaceutical executive was ordered to write a book while on a two-year probation as punishment for a white-collar crime.

However, such creative punishments, though rare, have varied widely.

In a recent case that has drawn national attention, a judge ordered a mother to cut her 13-year-old daughter’s ponytail off after the girl cut the ponytail off of a toddler.

In other cases, convicted persons have held embarrassing signs labeling them with their crime, spent 30 nights sleeping in a doghouse, marced through town with a donkey and a sign saying “sorry for the jackass offence,” attended church services, and spent a night alone in the woods (for abandoning kittens).

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