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Making punishment fit the crimes

Mike Cicconetti, a US judge with a difference.

1. When Michelle Murray was arrested for abandoning some kittens in a forest, she expected to get a fine or a short prison sentence. Instead she was sentenced to spend the night in the same cold, dark forest. In the end it was so cold that she only had to spend three hours in the woods, but Judge Mike Cicconetti had made his point. He wanted the 26-year-old Ohio housewife to feel the same pain and suffering as the animals she had abandoned, many of which later died.

2. Judge Cicconetti’s unusual ruling was just the latest example of his unique brand of ‘creative justice’ which has won him national acclaim. He was elected unopposed to serve another six years in Like County, Ohio last month, and this year won the presidency of the American Judges Association.

3. Cicconetti allows offenders to choose between jail, and an alternative, ‘creative’ sentence. For example, people accused of speeding are offered a choice between having their licence suspended for 90 days, or having it suspended for a shorter period and spending one day working as a school crossing guard. The judge says that offenders who spend a day helping school children across the street never appear in his courtroom for speeding again.

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