Punishment = Service

Photo by Sam Howzit

We live in a country where community service is a punishment for misdemeanors. Hmm? What does that say?

To me, it’s practical, but sad. Forced usefulness. I wonder how often this “punishment” results in a change of heart for the person. Did they find it an annoyance? An inconvenience to their busy lives? When finished, do they view it the same? What impact does it have on them? If anyone has some stories, I’d love to hear them.

I recently read that Russell Brand was sentenced to community service hours (apparently Brits have the same misdemeanor policy) for throwing a paparazzo’s iPhone, but that he said he considered it an “honor” and not a “punishment”. Good for him.


17 comments on “Punishment = Service

  1. Although I’ve not thought about this deeply, I have wondered about forced community service in place of military service on a national level. Just something passing through my head ….

  2. I always felt that community service was not so much a punishment as a way of trying to re-engage those who had behave anti-socially, although I guess they would see it as punishment.

  3. Although community service may be viewed by those who impose it as a way of re-engaging the anti-social back into society, I’m sure the majority, Russell Brand aside, would view it as sucn.
    As you say, it’s a shame. Community service is something we should all be thinking about engaging in. Especially those well heeled who have prospered in society. They give so little back compared to say, the great Victorian philanthropists. It was normal for business men who prospered to put something back. It was an honour and an honourable thing to do. The attitude now is to avoid paying as much tax as possible, maximise profit and as for a bit of community service? Well that would be considered something that criminals do.

  4. I see this from different view points… 1) Because my husband is law enforcement, I like community service as a punishment for juveniles who make bad decisions and get in trouble. I’m sure it doesn’t work for all, but for some I think it’s enough of a punishment to turn their lives around. 2) As a youth leader in my church, I want every juvenile to serve others and gain the sense of blessing that can come it. Thanks for posting about this subject and getting others to consider!!

  5. Wow! Food for thought! I guess, like anything else, it impacts different people differently. The hope is that for the majority, it will change their perspective enough that they continue to serve in some way. If they’re involved in impacting lives in a positive way, I think there’s a chance that could happen. Picking up trash on the highway? Hmmmm…maybe not so much. Interesting topic Marney.

  6. Good point! It would be an interesting study or article…let me know if you’d like to pursue it…also thanks for the info on the volunteer photographer… Have been meaning to thank you for a while…meryl

  7. My penneth for what it’s worth.
    I am a firm believer in the fact that if one commits a crime one should face a penalty, otherwise where we would we be?
    I do know that Prison is not always the answer, unlike a British 68 year old Judge who yesterday said to a career burglar who was up before him, “I think you are a brave person to do what you do, I couldn’t burgle anyone, I am not going to send you to prison but put you on 2 years probation”. Not even Community Service! Can you actually believe this?
    The PM David Cameron was shocked and has ordered an immediate enquiry into the case. He says, he has been burgled twice (before he was PM) and he thinks it is a disgusting and violent crime.
    Personally I feel that if the villain is a career criminal then it has to be prison. If the person is maybe a first offender of maybe a minor crime such as shoplifting, or being drunk and disorderly then Community Service is the way to go. Didn’t the ex-Pop singer Boy-George do some Community Service in NY a couple of years ago? Now there is someone who should be sent to prison just for being Boy-George! 🙂
    Bottom line, if we can make the offenders pay for their crimes in such a way that it teaches them that it is wrong, that it can at the same time maybe benefit society, and – I think most importantly – try to teach the criminal something like a new skill where they can earn a decent living on the ‘outside’. Unfortunately, it is my experience locally, that very few offenders benefit from the re-education, for a number of reasons, some not their fault. But returning to the same locale, same faces, same culture, no job to go to, and the Country in financial free fall blah, blah. What are they going to do? Not that I am sticking up for them or making excuses, just stating facts as I see em!

    • Mark, what a fantastic comment you left for me. Thank you! Did that judge seriously say he thought the burglar was brave for what he did, and give him probation? Sounds like the power has gone to his head. Or his head has gone. One or the other. 🙂

      • Thank you Marney
        Yes unfotunately I am quoting what the general press said about this stupid Judge. If he didn’t say ‘Brave’ he said ‘Courageous’ ! I think he may well be looking at early retirement if PM David Cameron has his way.

  8. I was made to perform community service a few times in high school, and I did feel that I was being seriously punished. It took me a while to learn my lesson, but the punishments benefited my by forcing me to adapt to rules and thus become more responsible.


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