Yoga and Anger Management: Judges Stir Pot With Creative Sentences


The defendant before Judge Larry Standley in Harris County, Texas, criminal court in January had slapped his wife on New Year’s Eve. The defense and the prosecutor had agreed on a punishment. But Standley tacked on another condition: yoga class.

Then came the uproar. CNN wanted an interview. Newspapers worldwide wrote about the yoga judge. Hate mail arrived from a North Carolina man who accused him of promoting Buddhism.

Standley stands by his sentence. He says he hopes the combination of traditional punishment and a mind- and body-stretching yoga class will help the man control his behavior.

At a time when many of the nation’s judges feel hamstrung by proscribed sentencing guidelines, some judges still take advantage of the leeway they have, reported USA Today. Creative sentences, which vary from wacky to touchy-feely to downright mean, are tacked on to jail time, community service and probation. Many are controversial. Among them:

• People convicted of domestic violence or fighting by Municipal Judge Frances Gallegos in Santa Fe are often sentenced to a twice-a-week, New Age anger-management class held in the courthouse lobby. In the lobby, transformed with candles, mirrors and aromatherapy, offenders experience tai chi, meditation, acupuncture and Eastern philosophy as a means of controlling rage.

• Municipal Judge David Hostetler of Coshocton, Ohio, this month ordered a man to jog for an hour every other day around the block where the jail is located. The man had run away from police after a traffic accident.


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