And I thought Our Fines Were Stiff

Overdue library book gets woman arrested:

An overdue library book called “The Freedom Writers Diary” briefly cost an Independence woman her freedom Thursday.

Jesup police arrested Shelly Koontz, 39, on a fifth-degree theft charge because she allegedly failed to return the collection of essays about the struggles of inner-city Long Beach, Calif., high school students.

The book’s retail price is $13.95.

“Theft is theft,” said Jesup Police Sgt. Chris Boos, “whether it’s a 50-cent candy bar, a $13 library book or a $200 TV.”

Koontz is free after posting a $250 bond at the Buchanan County Jail. Efforts to reach her by telephone Friday were unsuccessful.

This gets into that gray area of motivation. Stealing a TV or even just shoplifting a candy bar requires premeditation or at least a conscious decision to do something wrong. When Ms. Koontz checked the book out of the library, she was doing something legal and laudable. Forgetting to return a book is not a crime, it’s just forgetful. No one was harmed. And even if the library eventually paid for a replacement copy, this didn’t cost anything extra out of the budget because all libraries factor replacement costs into the budget. They could have just sent a bill to Ms. Koontz for the replacement fee, plus a penalty and made a little money. But going to the hassle, embarrassment and cost of running her through the legal system for what is the most insignificant of misdemeanors is stupid but all too indicative of our culture’s obsession with punishment.

We want the evil doers to pay. We demand Justice with a capitol J for the victims of theft and murder and rape, even if it means stealing property, murdering criminals or putting them in prison to be raped by other criminals. And, I guess now forgetfulness or good old fashioned sloth also demands Justice. Oh, and fornication as well, since the anti-choice freaks would like to inflict pregnancy, STDs and cancer, just so the sluts know what’s good from bad. But at least Sheriff Jim Bob in Yokal town got to flash his badge and show everyone whose a Man.

Link via Moby Lives.