Friday, February 24, 2012

Utah judge orders some defendants to hit the books

LOGAN, Utah (WTW) — Love, charity and compassion — hardly what one expects to find in a criminal courtroom of the 21st century. But some convicted defendants are gleaning lessons from the character in a 19th century novel when they're sentenced by a Cache County judge.
In "Les Miserables," penned by Victor Hugo in 1862, Monsignor Beinvenue was Bishop of Digne, a small community in France. He was a man of service and charity.
Beinvenue was once in a position to condemn a convicted felon to more time in prison after the man, Jean Valjean, stole from him. Instead, Beinvenue intervened and not only cleared Valjean of wrongdoing, but gave him the ability to climb out of a life of poverty.
From this act of kindness, Valjean came to realize the importance of a life given in service to others.
"It is beautiful, wonderful literature," said Judge Thomas Willmore of 1st District Court in Logan.
On a few occasions, Willmore said he has ordered defendants to read "Les Miserables" and write him a book report about the story. It isn't meant as a form of punishment, but rather a tool to help people think through their lives, he says...

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