An Unusual Punishment

Perhaps one famous term that comes to mind in the U.S. Constitution is the term “cruel and unusual punishment.” But in one case in the UK, there is no “cruel,” but just “unusual punishment.” Just check out this article: (click link) Yahoo! News- Pot Dealer in UK Gets Sentenced to Write 10-Page Essay, or you can see this video below:

So, basically, what happened was that a drug dealer got caught selling cannabis, and the original punishment was to have him spend time in jail and doing community service. However, because of a shoulder injury which meant he couldn’t do community service, the judge then decided to reduce his sentence into a punishment unheard of- writing a 10-page essay on why cannabis is bad.

Although it is unusual, it’s actually pretty smart. Let’s examine this. His original punishment was to spend time in jail and doing community service. Well, first of all, the jail part. So this guy’s going to just sit in jail wondering about his life, but how’s that gonna help him? The only reason I can come up with is that by going through a horrible experience of staying in jail, he won’t want to sell drugs anymore or else he’s going back to prison again. However, this reason is lame. Perhaps the jail he is living in is pretty comfortable. Not only that, there have been many many many crooks out there in the world who have been to jail many times but still commit the same crimes over and over again.

Pretty much, jail won’t work. How about the community service? The reason why this punishment of community service was even created was to have criminals go through an experience in which they realize how much help the community needs. That instead of screwing around with the police, they should have been dedicating their time to the community. Take for example a criminal who has stolen from many homeless people over the years. If he was forced to do community service in say, a homeless shelter, then he would perhaps be able to experience and see first-hand the pain, hunger, worries, and troubles homeless people go through. That criminal would begin to¬†sympathize with homeless people and thus would be less likely to steal from them again.

So community service punishment is pretty smart, but it won’t work in all cases, such as this case of the drug dealer. By helping the community out, this guy won’t be seeing the badness of cannabis. More than likely is he going to sell cannabis again. What does Bennett need then? He needs an experience in which he sees the negative effects of illegal drugs. Perhaps the most effective way is to again have a first-hand experience, in which he maybe goes to hospitals to visit victims affected by cannabis.

But I still think this essay punishment is a smarter one. For one thing, a visit to the hospital is not always possible. But writing an essay is a task that can be done almost any time. Also, if he were to go to a hospital, he would probably see the pain and agony of the victims. With the Internet however, it emphasizes this three times over. For instance, in a hospital, there is only a limited number of victims he can see. In the internet, there are an unlimited number of videos, articles, and blogs about the experiences of victims of illegal drugs. Not only that, by researching on this drug and its various effect on the body, it helps truly identify the bad effects of it not only in the emotional aspect, but also physically.

So what can we learn from here? Perhaps we can implement this type of punishment overseas to the United States. I believe that this punishment is not only less harsh, but also more effective than the typical prison. This is what I call smart punishment.


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