Nobody wants to be a jailbird when they grow up, but people who do end up there for any length of time are often regular people who made a stupid mistake, and deserve to pay for it. Not these people. Sure, some of them made really boneheaded plays; some of them even deserve derision and ridicule. What they didn’t deserve was a stay in the pokey, but that’s exactly what they got.
10. 30 Days For Collecting Rainwater
One would not think that stealing rain would be an offense punishable by jailing, or even something that is possible. But a rural Oregon man, Gary Harrington, was sentenced to 30 days for doing just that.
Gary collects rain and snow runoff in three barrels on his property, mainly for fire protection, as he lives in an area that is prone to wildfires. Sensible, right? No, says the state of Oregon: those barrels are illegal reservoirs, and that damn water is owned by the Medford Water Commission. Never mind that it fell out of the sky onto Gary’s property.
Gary had even previously tried applying for permits (see: jumping through hoops) to collect the water, but they were denied. So, he just let it continue to rain into his barrels like a common criminal, and paid the price.
9. Two Days For Not Deleting Facebook Account
Like several people on this list, Paula Asher did something stupid: she got a DUI. Not only did she admit it was stupid, she did so publicly: via Facebook status update. To wit: “My dumb ass got a DUI and I hit a car … LOL!” Well, hey, if you can’t LOL at yourself …
Obviously, she deserved to go to jail for driving drunk, but that’s not our focus here. The judge caught wind of her flippant Facebook remark, and ordered her to delete her account. When she did not, the judge ordered her jailed for two days. For not leaving Facebook.
Now, driving drunk is a serious crime. Stupid Facebooking? If that were a crime, who among us would NOT be guilty? Paula, for her part, contends that she was not making light of the crash, but making fun of herself, which we thought was pretty obvious.
8. 18-Month Sentence For Soldier Having A Gun
Danny Nightingale is a respected and decorated soldier in the SAS, an elite branch of the British Air Force. In 2007, he was given a Glock 9MM pistol in Afghanistan by the Iraqi government, as a “trophy” for assisting in the training of Iraqi soldiers. He intended to deactivate the gun, and have it framed and presented to his unit.
Unfortunately, being a soldier, Danny suffers from seizures and memory loss, as a result of various head injuries incurred while hunting down people who want to kill us. He forgot about the pistol and, in 2012, he was sentenced to 18 months in a military prison for possessing it, since soldiers apparently can’t have guns in their homes under British law. He was jailed for three weeks and released when his case was placed under appeal. Luckily for him, he won said appeal and was given a one-year suspended sentence. So all he has to do is not keep any illegal guns in his house for one year and he’s good to go.
7. Three Days For Friending Somebody On Facebook
Jacob Jock, a juror in a Florida auto negligence case, did something that defies common sense: he sent a Facebook friend request to the defendant. Was the defendant young and female? Take a wild guess.
Obviously, nobody does this, and he was rightfully removed from the jury. But the judge also threw him in the slammer for three days, which seems a little excessive for being an idiot.
Oh, and how did the judge find out? The defendant told her, of course, because the defendant is not an idiot. Sorry, Jacob, you never had a chance with her.
6. Four Months On Baseless Suspicion Of Being An Illegal Immigrant
Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” is known colloquially as the “Show Me Your Papers” act. Unfortunately for US citizen Briseira Torres, she didn’t have them handy, and so was detained on suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant … for FOUR MONTHS.
The bill itself is fairly controversial, because it sort of encourages racial profiling. But this case got pretty crazy; when Briseira came up with documents, she was accused of faking them, and continued to sit in jail. She lost her home and car, and relatives had to care for her teenage daughter while she banged her head against local authorities.
Ultimately, she came up with a birth certificate and the charges were dropped “without prejudice,” meaning they can be brought against her again in the future- you know, if she becomes an illegal immigrant at any point. Most ironic legal term ever? Perhaps.
5. 19 Days For Not Letting 9-Year-Old Visit Rapist Father In Prison
Brooklyn resident Sukhwant Herb has made a bad life choice or two. The man who fathered her son as a teenager ended up in prison for a long, long time for raping three women, but we’re all kind of crappy judges of character at that age.
When a judge ordered her to let her 9-year-old son visit his dad – you know, in state prison – she said no, because that is a terrible environment for a child under any circumstances. Sounds like Sukhwant is making better choices these days! Good for her!
The judge didn’t see it that way, and sentenced her to 50 days in Rikers’ Island penitentiary. She was locked up without being given a chance to post bail, with the judge ranting, “Shame, shame, shame, you see how shameful she is … she’s gonna get arrested and her kids are not gonna know where she is.”
Shameful, indeed. The sentence was overturned (by the same judge, oddly) and Sukhwant was released after about two and a half weeks.
4. Six Years For Failing To Predict An Earthquake
There is no way to state this so that it makes sense, but here we go: six Italian scientists were sentenced en masse to six years in prison, for involuntary manslaughter. For failing to accurately predict the location and scale of the L’Aquila earthquake. If you need us to tell you what’s wrong with this picture, kindly stop reading and go have your head examined.
Apparently “we really, really did our best” was not an adequate defense. Any seismologist, or person with a modicum of common sense for that matter, will tell you that it is impossible to accurately predict earthquakes; it is a very inexact science. But the quake killed 300 people, someone had to pay, and God didn’t respond to the subpoena.
The entirety of the scientific community responded by hastily picking their jaws up off the floor, and casting frightened glances around the room. While they are free for now, pending appeal, Italian officials are notoriously stubborn, and appear quite determined to see somebody punished for having the audacity to not be perfect.
3. Overnight For Overdue Library Books
Lori Teel of New Mexico checked out a Twilight book and DVD from her local library in 2010 and then forgot about them for two years, probably because they weren’t very good. She racked up a whopping 36 bucks in fines, which is a bummer, having to shell out a week’s gas money for some stupid Twilight stuff she didn’t even like (we’re just assuming that part.)
For this, she was handcuffed and taken to jail in front of her five kids – at the time ranging in age from 1 to 10 – and spent the night there. In jail. For an overdue library book.
It was totally worth traumatizing a bunch of innocent children, though, to keep the streets safe from scum like this. Lori is suing, obviously.
2. Ten Days For Sending Kids To The Wrong School District
Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar lived in a crappy school district. But luckily, she lived part-time with her father in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District, which has awesome schools, so she decided to send her daughters there. You may have heard a version of this story before. You may recognize it as “not that unusual” and “something that literally happens all the time”.
But for lying about her residency like a lying liar (even though, again, she lived within Copley’s boundaries part-time,) she got the book thrown at her – probably a pretty nice book, considering the district her trial took place in.
She served ten days in jail for sending her kids to a nice school, as the judge “felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school districts.” Let this be a lesson if you’re in a similar situation; send your kids to the crappy school. It’s the law!
1. 56 Days For Tweeting Too Stupidly
21-year-old Liam Stacey is a jackass and, by all accounts, a racist, but that’s public knowledge. When footballer Fabrice Muamba (who is black) suffered a heart attack during a game, Liam took to Twitter to make fun of him over it in a particularly crass, stupid manner which we will not repeat here.
Liam claimed variously that his account was hacked (it wasn’t,) that he was drunk (probably,) and that he was just screwing around (clearly). He was booted from Twitter (appropriate,) suspended from University (a little harsh,) and jailed for 56 days (bat-crap insane.)
Look, nobody in their right mind is going to defend this kid or his Twitter posts; that’s kind of the point. He was jailed for “inciting racial hatred,” but who was he inciting? He basically said, “Haha, that black guy had a heart attack,” and all of Twitter rightfully called him a jerk for it. Are there any 21-year olds who are NOT complete jerks from time to time? Lock ‘em all up!