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Learn English or Go to Jail

I’ve been sitting on this for a couple of days because I couldn’t decide what I think about it. Basically, a judge sentenced three Spanish-speaking men who were convicted of harassing and assaulting someone to come back in two years with a GED, a full-time job, and the ability to speak English, or he’ll send them to jail for two years.

Definitely amusing. The most compelling argument against this creative sentencing I’ve heard is that we don’t want language learning to seem like a punishment. But when I saw some people in orange vests picking up trash today, I thought, “That’s useful. Why shouldn’t convicted criminals always do useful things instead of sitting in jail, spending public money?”

And useful for society or useful for the criminal, it doesn’t really matter to me.  In fact, it would be kind of cool if you couldn’t leave jail until you learned a new language. We’d have all these ex-con translators instead of ex-con repeat offenders.

So I applaud the idea of sentencing someone to learn a language. I can only hope that I’ll be sentenced to learn Mandarin if I ever get busted for trespassing (my main hobby).

But in this case, the sentence might be a little light. Let’s think about what these guys did.

The four, ranging in age from 17 to 22, were in a group that police said accosted two men on a street in May. The two said they were asked if they had marijuana, told to empty their pockets, struck on the head, threatened with a gun and told to stay off the block.

I mean, that sounds pretty crazy. I’d like to think that some verb conjugations or some Ebaby! or some Shakespeare might set these guys straight, but I’m glad they’re going to be learning English in Pennsylvania and not on my street, you know?

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One Response to “Learn English or Go to Jail”

  1. Daria Says:

    Hi, Jason!
    Friendly speaking, my first thought was “what a ridiculous sentence – learn the language and we’ll allow you to stay at large”.
    But then I pondered and realized that you’re right: these guys after imprisonment will obviously continue their machinations, because they just don’t want and don’t have any possibility to change themselves and if they get GED and find a job (and it’s impossible without language), even forced to do this, they’ll become completly different from what they were and this is the greatest measure, i’d say genious!
    The question is will these spanish men be able to learn the language, to pass the GED test? If you were a criminal, it seems pretty difficult to become normal member of society, I mean, they hardly have strong studying skill, you know. And I wonder in what term they have to do this.
    Anyway, very interesting subject, thank you. )

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