Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nov. 18: Creative Sentencing - How far is too far?

An AP story in yesterday's paper talked about a mother in Oklahoma who was concerned about her 14-year-old daughter's chronic lateness to class and talking-back-to-teachers attitude. So, she decided to take matters into her own hand.

She made the child stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection with a big sign: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."

The mother claims she was desperate and needed to do anything she could to straighten up her daughter.

Her mother never left the child's side. She stood with her and though they were only there a couple of hours, they attracted plenty of attention -- letters were written and calls to talk radio shows either praised her or condemned her for publicly humiliating the child. Protective Child Services also showed up.

But apparently it worked. The child's grades, attitude and attendance improved.

Would I ever do such a thing? Probably not.

Fortunately I don't have to. I've been blessed with some amazing kids. My first daughter was born with Down syndrome. She is developmentally disabled and one of the sweetest and kindest children to ever walk the face of the earth. My middle girl has been a 4.0 kid since 4th grade and is currently first in her class of 204 sophomores and my baby has been a gifted child since preschool. She read second-grade level before entering kindergarten. They are active in band, sports, CSF, Key Club, volunteer at the SPCA and have never given me any trouble. I am blessed.

But back to the Oklahoma child...

How far would you go to protect or encourage a child?
What about adults?

We have a California Superior Court Judge (Howard Broadman) in our town that is known for "creative" sentencing.

Judge Broadman has made defendants quit smoking, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, see psychiatrists, wear T shirts indicating they are on probation and has told an abusive spouse to leave town but to first donate his car to a shelter for battered women.
He made a big splash when he made it a part of the sentencing order for a woman to use a Norplant – birth control implanted in the arm – after she pleaded guilty to beating her children brutally. (He has been written about in Time, Wall Street Journal and People, and has appeared on reality-television show “Law Firm.”

In his defense, the Norplant was not just a sentence. The gal was pregnant and she had said she did not want any more children. The Judge explained that if he made it part of the sentence, the State would pay for the birth control and she could avoid four years of prison. She and her lawyer agreed but later she changed her mind, saying that her reproductive-rights have been violated; they waived the ‘no jail’ carrot in front of her and “forced” her to take the Norplant. It is no surprise that she is appealing the case.

My thoughts?

Perhaps if we had more judges like Broadman, we’d have less crime.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. We need Broadmans on every judicial bench in America. It's scary the way things have gotten out of hand and a lot of it is due to the fact that the children instead of the parents are running the show.

    I think the OK mom did a good job. I also think the very fact that she stood along side her daughter proved that she is a protecting and loving mom. She knows her daughter, and made a statement in a way that her daughter would never forget.

    Most of us who are into good parenting, doing the best we can with the knowledge we have to work with--know and realize our limits and know what our children can cope with emotionally. I do not believe for one moment that mom would have done what she did, if she had reason to believe it would harm her daughters emotional well being.

    I salute her.

  3. I'm always stunned and impressed when people manage to raise kids to be decent human beings. I'm not a parent, so short of real abuse, I'm also not about to criticize someone's creative parenting techniques.

    Part of the problem, I think, is that we've apparently made a cultural decision that kids shouldn't ever have to feel bad about anything--and that's terribly detrimental to their personality and character development. Of course the little monsters should be made to feel bad when they screw up on purpose--how else do they learn any different? That what consequences are all about.

  4. I also was fortunate and didn't need to go to any extremes to discipline my two daughters. I raised them as I was raised: with manners, respect, honesty, and a love for the world around them. My oldest is 28 and my youngest is 27. I think they turned out pretty good. They are the only two of five grandchildren who keep in touch with my mother by calling, writing, and visiting without expecting anything from her but a smile.

  5. Hi there! Just popped in to say I still agree with you and YOU ARE TAGGED! Blame it on Frank--all his fault. See my site for the scoop. :o)

  6. Thanks for the comments Joanne, Mac and Lady Prose. You all have wisdom in there.
    Joanne, sounds like your daughters are real gems, just like you.
    And Lady Prose, ok, I'll blame Frank. :-) You're making it hard for me. Now I have to find someone to tag.