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Criminal punishments tend to follow a pretty set pattern. Whether you shoot up a bird sanctuary or jaywalk naked, most sentences boil down to some combination of jail time, fines, and the disappointment of your parents. But every once in a while a judge shows off their "creative side" by inventing a unique punishment more fitting of the specific crime. The results range from hilarious to borderline malevolent.
Force Teenagers To Listen To Barney
In a world full of criminals stealing entire churches and absconding with truckloads of delicious nuts, it's hard to be too upset with teenagers who blast music too loudly. Sure, nobody likes being startled awake by Busta Rhymes' unsolicited, powerful bass lines, but forcing 16-year-old kids to pony up $100 plus court costs solely for wanting to wreck the discotheque feels harsh. That’s why Judge Paul Sacco decided on something much more sinister for those kids.
As of 1999, anybody in Ft. Lupton, Colorado found in violation of the city noise ordinance -- that is, cranking your fresh beats until they're audible 25 feet away -- is forced into the diabolical "Music Immersion Program." The point of the program is to turn the tables on these delinquents, and force them to listen to the music of the people they were hurting most: toddlers and old people.
To that end, offenders are taken to a room somewhere and made to listen to the crappiest music the judge can find. This started in 1999, which meant the judge had some truly horrendous selections to choose from including: Yanni, Barry Manilow, Dean Martin, and even the purple devil himself, Barney. For an hour, those teenagers sit, slowly drowning in crappy music, until they either can't take it or become entirely reformed by the sultry sounds of "Copacabana."
"I love you. You love me. I just stole your sanity."
The Chicago Tribune followed up with a few kids who survived this cruel and unusual punishment and found, unsurprisingly, that while none of them were rushing to buy Manilow's greatest hits, in fact, out of 50 kids who'd been subjected to auditory waterboarding, there had been zero repeat offenders. That success rate almost demands we at least try forcing convicted crack dealers to listen to Creed's entire discography before letting them out on parole.
Ditch A Cab? Walk That Entire Distance On Foot
Not many of our readers probably know what a taxi is, but think of it like an Uber, except instead of cruising around in some dude's reasonably clean Prius, it's a petri dish on wheels, coated in E. coli. Oh, and they won't stop talking to you about how great the Mets are going to be this year.
But gross though their reputation may historically be, taxi drivers are still hard-working members of their community, and they deserve to be paid for their services. After all, if you can't get an Uber or a taxi, what's the alternative? Hauling your eight dozen pairs of MeUndies 30 miles to the nearest hotel? Well, yeah, actually.
In 2015, a teenager named Victoria Bascom decided she needed a cab. Her butt was currently located in Cleveland, and for whatever reason it needed to be in Painsville ... which is an actual city in Ohio and not just where I threaten to take my opponents in the octagon. Bascom hailed a cab, placed her butt inside, and rode the 30 miles to her destination. Once there, however, she made like a GTA player accidentally hitting the wrong button and jumped out of the cab, without paying the fare.
She was more or less immediately caught and brought before a judge. Along with paying back the fare she stiffed, Bascom was given a choice: 60 days in jail, or walk for 30 miles. She chose the latter, and the judge gave her 48 hours to complete her walk to remember.
The news crew was provided free of charge.
Bascom went to the local fair grounds to begin her walk, but instead of walking on the actual asphalt like a normal person, she spent her first 24 hours slogging through the mud which slowed her down significantly. Realizing Bascom was apparently an idiot, the judge reduced her mileage down to 20 miles. Given her new sentence, she probably started army-crawling in circles through the local Food Lion.
Public Shaming For Years
Eloise and Daniel Mireles are pretty much grade-A buttholes. While working as an employee of Harris County, Texas, Eloise managed to steal a whopping $250,000. This wasn't just money for fixing potholes or providing tax incentives to incoming Red Lobster locations either -- that money was for assisting crime victims. You know, the kinds of people who get screwed over by people like the Mireles.
Weirdly, Eloise begged the judge to be lenient with her (maybe because she was about to lose $250,000) but Judge Kevin Fine said, "Hell, no" and slapped the two with a humiliating punishment that would make the Puritans briefly smile.
First, the two of them would have to go to jail for 180 days. But instead of serving their days consecutively, they'd have to split them up into one month chunks each year for six years. Next, they had to post a sign in front of their house that read, "The occupants of this residence, Daniel and Eloise Mireles, are convicted thieves." Not exactly the best way to get invited to neighborhood potlucks.
Then finally, and here’s the kicker, the two were told to put their signature on signs that read, "I am a thief. I stole $250,000 from a Harris County crime victims fund," and then take those shame plaques to the busiest intersection in all of Houston. For five hours a day. Every Saturday and Sunday. For six freakin' years.
No word on if he was forced to grow that mustache/goatee combo.
And lest you think, "Wait a minute, that's ridiculous. Surely they overturned that, right?" Well, the actual attorney assigned to defend them seemed on board with the punishment, saying, "I think my client will gladly stand at that corner of the road and admit what he has done over and over and over again, if he's been allowed to stay out and continue to provide for his family."
For the prosecutor's part, he was all in, saying that he'd drive out to that intersection all the time and make sure the convicted criminals were sufficiently shaming themselves in public. If in the next six years they don't manage to find a way to make it to their shame corner, they'll be sent to prison for ten years. We can only hope that they'd still have to bring their little sign to put outside their cell.
Judge Forces A Couple To Get Married
Movies have long taught us that if we truly love somebody, we need to be willing to let them go. The idea being that if you truly care about somebody, you're willing to put their happiness ahead of your own, even if that means you're not a part of it. Of course in other movies, loving somebody who doesn't love you means stalking them around with a boombox and blasting '80s power ballads until they succumb to your manly musk. Or, in the real life case of Josten Bundy, it means punching your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend right in his face until she decides, "Oh wait. Maybe I do love this unhinged lunatic!" And, weirdly, when Bundy showed up in court to answer for his love punching, the court ... kind of agreed with him?
Here's what happened: The judge told Bundy that he could either take two years of probation or 15 days in jail. If Bundy took the probation, he'd be forced to write out Proverbs 26:27 ("If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it." 25 times a day. Oh, and he would need to marry his ex-girlfriend within 30 days.
It's pretty much the real life version of Cinderella.
Yeah, it's hard to tell if the judge was just calling Bundy's bluff so he'd admit he didn’t actually care about his girlfriend or what, but Bundy took the probation and his girlfriend inexplicably agreed to join him in this absurd life sentence. Maybe she thought it was sweet that he'd marry her solely to avoid jail time? That’s how The Notebook ended, right?
Hilariously, the story doesn't quite end there. Less than 10 days after the wedding, Bundy received a call saying that all charges against him were dismissed. So while he was no longer required to write out those Bible verses, he was still very much married.
But, hey, that's better than the alternative scenario where a judge pulled this same stunt only for the husband to become brain dead within four months, sparking a long battle between the new wife who wanted to keep him on life support and the father who believed the son should be allowed to let go.
You know, now that we're thinking about it, maybe forced marriage isn't the best sentence for a crime.
Take Your Wife On A Nice Date
Not every creative punishment involves public humiliation. Sometimes the judge just wants you to go bowling, which shouldn't be a big deal unless you need the bumpers up like a pudding-coated child. Then nobody can help you. In fact, you should probably be drowned in a basket of cheese fries for your ineptitude which is a punishment as fitting as it is delicious.
Back in 2012, one man really did have compulsory bowling foisted upon him as as part of his sentence. More specifically, he was ordered to take his wife on a nice date ... and not just a quick stop at Arby's before going to hang with the boys either. Here's the actual sentence:
"He's going to stop by somewhere and he's going to get some flowers. And then he's going to go home, pick up his wife, get dressed, take her to Red Lobster. And then after they have Red Lobster, they're going to go bowling."
Just to be clear, that wasn't a typo. He was actually sentenced to bowling.
The man had neglected to wish his wife a happy birthday, and their inevitable argument led to a marital disagreement that culminated in a domestic violence charge. Now, before you ask, no, nobody was hurt in any way. The wife was pushed onto the couch, but she was never actually hit. The judge made it very clear that if things had escalated further, he would have imposed a much harsher sentence.
"It was a minor incident, in the court's opinion. The court would not normally do that if the court felt there was some violence but this is very, very minor and the court felt that that was a better resolution than other alternatives."
So the judge asked the wife what she wanted from a date, and despite the world being her oyster, she chose freaking Red Lobster and bowling. She had one glorious opportunity to legally force her husband to take her skydiving or to the top of the Eiffel tower, and the best she could come up with was cheese biscuits and a chance to awkwardly roll 10-pound balls in a room full of drunken, old people.
Like this article? Check out "5 Real, Creative Punishments The Law Handed Out To Morons" and "5 Impressive Acts Of Petty Revenge".