What’s jail time compared to opera?

Published 8:06 pm Monday, November 24, 2008

In our justice system, innocence and guilt are seemingly determined by level of wealth. We lock the same people up again and again for the same offenses because, for some, prison life is a better alternative than what they would have otherwise. Minor drug offenders drain taxpayers, felons watch cable television, and so on.

But sometimes, as they say, even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Fort Lupton, Colo. Judge Paul Sacco has an unusual but effective way of dealing with people, mostly teenagers, that get ticketed for violating the town’s noise ordinance.

“These people should have to listen to music they don’t like,” Sacco said.

So, members of the wannabe rock band Revolving Reverence recently found themselves listening to Barry Manilow and Barney the Purple Dinosaur as Colorado’s KUSA*TV visited. The band was in court after playing a “gig” in the back yard of a member’s father’s house.

“The cop station was two blocks away” band member Robert Mort told news station. “People who were at the party loved it. I’m not sure the cops did.”

Yeah, probably not. The judge 10 years ago adopted a new strategy to keep repeat offenders out of his courtroom. Too many where showing with daddy’s money and learning no lesson.

“Most kids don’t want to hear somebody like Glen Close trying to sing opera,” Sacco said.

There’s a video and some pictures taken of these kids while the music is playing (www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=104411&provider=top), and they are as good as you’re imagining they would be. It’s easy to see why Sacco said repeat offenders aren’t as common as they used to be.

Now, if we could only apply Sacco’s logic to all the other criminals. We could teach drug dealers a lesson by…well…I’m sure it will come to me. Or maybe there is no good way to stop criminals from repeating the same acts.

As Revolving Reverence member Rueben Fuentes said about the possibility the band could end up again suffering through Sacco’s punishment, “Of course, all of us are going to rock.”