Judge Ted Poe is a Houston icon.
When he was on the bench, we loved him because he was honest and fair and believed in sentences that were punitive, but in a completely different way. He was one of the first judges in the U.S. to administer creative sentences. Poe was a weekly guest on a show featured on my old radio station. I got to know him and I very much liked the man I got to know. He believed in the curative powers of humiliation.
Not unlike my mother.
For example, if a woman had been convicted of drunk driving, he’d force her to (as only part of her overall sentence) to stand at a busy Houston intersection, wearing a sandwich board which told the world in no uncertain terms that she was a filthy, dirty whore who drank and drive.
OK, the signs didn’t say that verbatim, but after the incessant car honks and vile comments hurled in her direction throughout the week, that’s how she felt and that, according to Judge Poe, would imprint on her psyche. And if she’s a normal human being, this will keep her from doing it again.
Healthy people feel and process shame and guilt, then apply them appropriately. If the temptation to drink and drive rears its ugly head again, we remember the negative feelings; the pangs of guilt and we either don’t drink at all OR…..we sure as hell don’t drink and drive. Behaviorists will tell you this works.
Like I said, mothers—especially Jewish ones— have known this for centuries.
Ted Poe was one of the first of the Black Robbed Ones to administer creative sentencing and other judges have been employing it as well. To see someone standing in the parking lot before and after an NFL game, wearing a sandwich board announcing to God and man that he’d beaten his wife, happens with some regularity these days. Personally, I applaud that.
The other day, I received an e-mail from a colleague about “creative sentences” that have been handed down by judges around the country. Knowing the man as I once did, I loved receiving this. It was like reading Ted Poe-etry.
I’ll share a few of them with you now:
1. It’s Delaware…..2006. A Superior Court judge sentenced a one, Russell Teeter to 60 days in jail for exposing himself to a ten year old girl. The judge further hammered home the punishment (in addition to jail time, mind you) by forcing Teeter to wear a t-shirt bearing the statement “I am a registered sex offender’.
Did I mention he HAD to wear his place of employment everyday for the next two years? From what I understand, the judged checked on Teeter…daily.
2. In the summer of 2007, a 73 year old man was caught taking metal from scrapyards under false pretenses. He told yard owners that the metal donations would be used to build a memorial for soldiers killed in Iraq. Well, that was bullshit. He instead, took the metal, sold it and pocketed the cash. Judge A.T. Frank took Ted Poe’s cue and decided that the perpetrator, Philip Kolinskowicz’s last name wasn’t criminal enough. Oh no no…he would add to that life long embarrassment by forcing the little Polack to wear a shirt that bore his name in big bold letters, as he cleaned the war memorial outside that city’s federal building. And yes, his toothbrush was the cleaning tool utilized. A sign in front of the memorial told everyone that Kolinskowicz had “Stolen from Veterans”.
3. In August of 2006, Donna Shelby went out dinner at a nice restaurant. She ate a rich, four course meal and then did a classic “dine and dash”. She got up and literally ran from the restaurant, but the restaurant owner caught her.
A) He could run faster and
B) Shelby could barely run at all. She was weighed down by at least three courses of the owner’s rich restaurant fare
When the case went to court, the judge, after apparently finding no other punishment to fit the crime, ordered Shelby to spend a n entire day in the kitchen of the local jail washing the convicts’ dishes…we’re talking breakfast, lunch and dinner. The judge chose this punishment after remembering a TV where characters had to wash dishes in the restaurant to cover their food bill. My sister Karol will recognize that from a particular “I Love Lucy” episode.
4. In Minnesota, winter’s are cold. So are the judges and thank God for that. If you’re ever in the land of ten-zillion lakes and you happen to be driving around, watch out for vehicles with license plates that start with the letter a ‘W’.
Apparently, any schmo convicted of drunk driving more than once is given one of these special ‘Whiskey Plates’ (hence, the “W”) in order to let the public and authorities know about their previous convictions.
Nice concept. I’d make an old boyfriend drive around with plates that begin with a “D”. Oh, I’m far too mature, delicate and proper to convey what the “D” would stand for, but suffice it to say that it sounds a whole lot like “Dick”.
5. In 2004, a woman named Tiffany Nix strung out on one hell of a speedball (a mix of opiates and amphetamines) drove her car into the side of a school and killed a child. The judge, rather than sending her to the Big House for consecutive years, sentenced Nix to ten separate, one-day jail terms on the anniversary of the child’s death. Her last day in prison is set for September 28th, 2015.
The child’s parents were said to be happy with the sentence. Personally, that hardly seems like enough punishment, but that’s just me.
6. A judge in Ohio ordered three men to stand outside a court wearing chicken suits holding a sign that read ‘No chicken ranch in Painesville’. This, after they were caught soliciting undercover police women for sex.
One big cock and bull story…in more ways than one.
Anyway, the chicken suit is apparently a reference to a legendary whorehouse that once entertained menfolk here in Texas. It was called “The Chicken Ranch” and it spread its heathen debauchery while situated outside La Grange (a sleepy little berg just east of Houston). It was immortalized in song by Z.Z. Top and on the stage and celluloid via “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas”.
7. In 2005, a heartless twat (as my dear PM would refer to her) by the name of Michelle Murray abandoned 35 kittens in two separate parks in Ohio. (Gee, this is the second mention of Ohio in this post. Notice a strange criminal trend in that Midwestern state???) Park Rangers discovered the kittens and noticed right off the bat that many were sick. Nine of the poor babies died. As part of the sentence, the judge had Murray taken to a remote location in the woods where she was left for one night without food and water. No radio, no tools…nothing. She was left alone to struggle with her own devices and her conscience, which I’m convinced, she has little of.
While I do think that humiliation and forcing the perp to experience that which he or she forced the victim or victims to endure, in this case, the punishment didn’t fit the crime. This was way too light in my opinion. A good beatin’ should have accompanied an extended stay in the Mojave Desert.
On a day when she was in her period.
With no Midol anywhere.