Thinking outside the judicial box


The past seven days have been mind-numbing. I can’t remember more separate incidents of unexplainable horrendous acts of violence or accidents occurring, all within one week. What is happening to us as a society? Three police officers were killed, while two television news employees were massacred while conducting a live interview for the WDBJ morning show. These acts are astounding, and all were within just a few days.

Combine this with multiple air show disasters, and never do I remember a more tragic month in American history. Thank you, September, for finally arriving. It was long overdue for August to end.

The backstories of the five shooting victims are all painful to read due to the now-fatherless young children, grieving widows and the devastated betrothed partners of the two WDBJ staff members. The circumstances of the three police officers’ deaths — the first in Memphis, the second in Louisiana and the third in Houston — are too painful to read.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has stated that 23 police officers have died via gun violence during 2015. When car accidents are included, about 64 law enforcement personnel have been killed during 2015, per this non-profit organization. This rate is double of 2014. The courage it now takes to enter the profession of law enforcement astounds me.

One person who is attempting to make a small difference in the escalating crime rate is Lake County Municipal Judge Michael Cicconetti. Fondly known as “Judge Chick,” he is attempting to lessen the recidivism of offenders who come before his bench with unique sentences versus jail time. Featured on the ABC show “Nightline,” late in the evening of Monday, Aug. 31, this Painesville, Ohio, judge said he believes that the biblical principle of “an eye for an eye” is a much more effective sentencing tactic than sending offenders to jail “to become better criminals.”

A few of his unique offenders’ sentences — highlighted on the show — include:

• Giving a man arrested for soliciting a prostitute the option of jail time or to wear a chicken suit in public with a placard stating his offense (he chose the “suit”).

• A taxi customer who didn’t pay her fare ordered to walk the 30-mile length of her “free ride.”

• An abusive dog owner sentenced to spend time at the county dump for leaving her pet in her “hoarder house” for a week without food or water and in filthy conditions. (Her sentence was especially tough since “Judge Chick” is a dog lover. The woman’s pit-bull mix has recuperated and is now available for adoption.)

All of the offenders decided upon the “non-jail time option.”

Something the judge is doing seems to be working. His recidivism rate of repeat offenders is only 10 percent. The national average of first-time offenders committing a second crime is an astounding 75 percent.

As our jail population continues to grow, perhaps more “creative sentencing” judges are needed. Thank you, Judge Cicconetti, for “thinking outside of the sentencing box.”

And finally, the renaming of Mount McKinley to “Denali” has many Ohioans crying foul. It seems that a renaming of a historical site is far beyond necessary. Are there no other more urgent issues facing Congress? It is unknown who sponsored this change of name within government, but seemingly it is another example of wasted taxpayer dollars for something that seems without reason.

The cumulative cost total of changing landmark signs, highway billboards, maps and other identifiers will account to millions of our taxpayer dollars. It seems that we Ohioans have been outvoted by the bureaucratic nightmare of Washington, D.C.

Mariann Main is a Delaware native and journalism graduate of The Ohio State University. She has a master’s degree in counseling from Georgia State University, and is licensed as a counselor in both Ohio and Georgia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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