In the United States, two lines of reasoning for dealing with criminal behavior has existed since the country was created. On one side are those that believe in the Old Testament edict of an ‘eye for an eye’ and on the other side, the idea that behavior can be modified (which some call liberal, others call Christ-like).
But an Ohio judge gives individuals in his court the option to choose between the two approaches. The deal: jail time or a punishment, the judge feels, is more in line with the crime. His tactics, although unusual, have worked since the percentage of repeat offenders in his court is 10 percent compared to a national average that is as high as 75 percent.
Walk or Jail Time?
For one teen woman, it meant choosing between 30 days in jail for stiffing a cab driver or walking 30 miles (she chose to walk). And for a woman who left her dog alone for a week inside a home overfilled with junk, the choice was 90 days in jail or 8 hours at the county dump picking up trash (she took the latter).
In an era where it is simpler to ‘follow the law,’ and hand down the acceptable sentence, the tactics of Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti are definitely unusual. But, in an interview with ABC, Cicconetti explains why he takes such an unorthodox approach to sentencing,
When you talk about state prisons and federal prisons, their problem started way back here with my court, with municipal courts, with the minor offenses. Most people don’t start out with a felony case. It starts small, and it gets bigger, so my whole train of thought here is that we have to stop them or prevent them — that conduct — from going further at the beginning stages. They get in jail. They get smarter criminally, and as they get smarter criminally, the offenses become greater.
Painesville is a city of about 20,000 located northeast of Cleveland. You can view the ABC interview below: