6 Months In Jail For a Yawn?

Posted: August 14, 2009 in Current Events
Tags: , , , , ,

A judge in Will County, Illinois sentenced a man to 6 months in jail.  His crime?  Yawning in court.   Seriously.


I will buy the judge’s story that the yawn was intentionally obnoxious.  But even with that, is it really worth 6 months of jail time?  Wouldn’t have kicking the man out of the courtroom sufficed?  I mean, the guy that actually was being sentenced only got probation for a felony drug charge.  So intentional yawning is more severe of a crime than a felony drug charge?

I think at some point we need to start to take another look at our justice system in this country.  One of the problems I have is the apparent disparity between crime and punishment.  This guy yawns and gets 6 months.  Mary Winkler kills a guy and gets 7 months.   NFL player Michael Vick has a dog fighting ring and gets 23 months, while NFL player Donte Stallworth drives drunk and runs somebody over, killing him, gets 30 days.  Meanwhile Martha Stewart gets 5 months for selling stocks.  So I guess selling stocks is not quite as bad as cold-blooded murder, much much worse than driving drunk and accidentally killing somebody.

I also can’t help to think that guilt or innocence is only one of many factors that determine whether or not one wins a case.  Unfortunately I think jury selection, lawyer performance, judge, and heck, even the appearance of the person standing trial all play a role.  This is why I can’t support the death penalty.  Do I think there are crimes so horrific that death is the only suitable punishment?  Yes.  But if you are going to put a person to sleep permanently, you damn well better get it right!  And I just don’t think our system gets it right.  At least if you don’t kill, you can partially correct errors later.

A system that sends a man to jail for 6 months for yawning is flawed.  But I guess the guy should feel pretty lucky.  Had he passed gas, he would have probably gotten the electric chair!


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