Perhaps I've Been A Little Too Tough On Crime

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Vol 39 Issue 33

Public Urinator Gives Passerby Dirty Look

TALLAHASSEE, FL—While walking past a house party on Tripoli Avenue early Sunday morning, Howard Lipner, 20, received a withering look from an unidentified public urinator. "He was taking a leak right there in the front yard, not even behind a bush, or garbage can, or anything," Lipner said. "And he gives me this look, like, 'What are you looking at? Can't you see I'm trying to take a piss?' As if it's my fault for walking on a public sidewalk while he's out there taking a leak, like the king of Sheba." Lipner assured reporters that he intentionally avoided looking at the urinator's penis, because he's "not some kind of perv."

Woman Only Dates On National Television Now

HOLLYWOOD—After stints on Temptation Island, The Bachelor, and For Love Or Money, 23-year-old bartender/model Angela Langdon announced Monday that she refuses to date anyone who's not courting her in a front of a national TV audience. "Unless there's the promise of a million-dollar payday, a romantic evening in the tropics, or a humiliating rejection in front of all of America, I'm not interested," Langdon told potential suitors. "Come with cameras, or don't come at all." Langdon also expressed a preference for network shows over those in syndication.

Japan Spotted Hovering Over Algeria

ALGIERS, ALGERIA—Japan continued to vex the world Monday, as numerous eyewitnesses saw the exotic and mysterious Pacific Rim country hovering over the mountainous coastal regions of Algeria. "I noticed it up there around noon," said Ahmed Boumediènne, a farmer whose land lay in the 1,744-mile shadow temporarily cast by the floating archipelago. "The schoolchildren were having a great time waving at it. But, when I came out after lunch, it was gone again. Must have moved on." Boumediènne added that no one was threatened by Japan's serene presence. As of press time, the Japanese islands were back in the Pacific Ocean.

Great Lover Also Great At Slinking Out

MANITOU SPRINGS, CO—According to a number of area women, the lovemaking abilities of the handsome and gregarious Ken Millagro are matched only by his ability to quietly slink out the door after a night of passion. "I'll spare you the details, but Ken was really, really good in the sack," 35-year-old Heather Yorgrau said Sunday, the morning after meeting Millagro at a friend's birthday party. "He was also really, really good at getting out of the sack without waking me up. He was absolutely amazing at not tripping over the shoes on the floor, leaving the noisy fan in the bathroom off, and quietly managing the locks on the front door." Millagro was unable to be found for comment.

The Ten Commandments Ruling

State Supreme Court justices recently ordered that a Ten Commandments monument be removed from the Alabama Judicial Building. What do you think?

No One Makes It To Burning Man Festival

GERLACH, NV—The Burning Man festival, a prominent artistic and countercultural event that draws tens of thousands of people to the Nevada desert annually, is in danger of cancellation this week because "no one had their shit together enough to even make it," organizers said Tuesday.

Billy Crystal Passed Over... Again!

Item! According to my sources, the Emmys—the Oscars of television—are going to be hosted by no less than seven comedians. Before you get your hopes up, I checked, and none of the hosts will be funnyman Billy Crystal. Now, I ask you, the esteemed Academy, why waste a golden opportunity? I'm sure the other hosts are very funny, but have they proven themselves like Billy? I doubt it.
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Scientists Posit Theoretical ‘Productive Weekend’

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Challenging long-accepted scientific convention, a group of leading MIT scientists published a report Thursday positing that, under certain rare and specific conditions, a so-called “productive weekend” is theoretically pos...

Perhaps I've Been A Little Too Tough On Crime

As district attorney of Grand Rapids, I've got a lot of responsibility. This job keeps me running day and night. But with all the prosecuting and sentencing I've been doing lately, I've started to think that maybe I've been a little tough on crime.

Now, don't get me wrong. I want to stamp out crime as much as the next D.A., but sometimes I think I've come down just a wee bit hard on it. I know we're supposed to be getting criminals off the streets, teaching them about consequences, and all that. But aren't there nicer ways of going about it, without all the arresting and incarcerating?

Just the other day, I was at the sentencing for Donnell Williams, a 22-year-old responsible for a string of burglaries on the West Side. The judge, a hard-liner, handed Donnell the maximum sentence: a two-to-five. Just like that. Two to five years. You should have seen Donnell's face as they led him away. He looked so disappointed. I said to myself, "Why do we have to give him jail time? Why can't we just tell him that this time we're serious, that this is his last chance or else?"

I firmly believe that lawbreakers should be held accountable for their actions. On the other hand, I'm kind of a softie. A couple aggravated assaults here and there--who's counting? The summers are hot here. I can't blame some of these guys for blowing off a little steam. Who am I to tell them what they should or shouldn't do? Sometimes, even I find myself being a little short with my wife, or raising my voice with my kids. It doesn't feel right to punish violent criminals every time they assault some landlord with a pipe. I get off scot-free every time I head down to the batting cages to release my tension. And let's not even talk about speeding. My Lumina doesn't know the meaning of the phrase "speed limit."

Instead of taking a bite out of crime, we should take a chance on a criminal. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Criminals live up to the expectations we have of them. If we treat criminals like criminals, that's exactly how they're going to behave: like criminals. What if, instead of writing up a ticket, we pulled over a reckless driver and told him that we weren't mad, just disappointed? We could tell him that we know he feels bad about his misdeeds, and then we could tell him that we're willing to give him the chance to right his wrongs on his own terms.

People forget that criminals are people, too. When the police haul a guy in for holding up a convenience store with a handgun, I know I'm supposed to prosecute him for armed robbery. But sometimes, I can't help but think we'd all be a lot better off if I gave him a slap on the wrist, and then the two of us went for a drive through the nature conservatory.

At the end of the day, criminals will be criminals. Even with all the huffing and puffing down here at city hall, people are committing crimes as much as ever. So, I say, why not stop harassing the criminals? Let's loosen up a little. If we don't, it's only going to make these guys rebel.

Heck, I've done some things I'm not proud of. I used to sell fireworks when I was a boy. In college, I sometimes skipped my afternoon classes to drink beer. I was even late making a rent payment a couple months ago. I learned my lessons the hard way. No, I was never put in front of a court, but I was prosecuted by a much harsher D.A.: my conscience.

Maybe we should sit down with these felons and try to connect with them, instead of always getting on their cases. If criminals felt like they could confide in us, we'd probably stop a lot of crimes before they even happened. From now on, instead of "three strikes and you're out," I'm trying "three strikes and let's talk about it."

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