Typically, when you get convicted of a crime, you pay the government back with a combination of time behind bars and cold, hard cash. But some dirty deeds don’t exactly translate well to standard sentencing, so judges have to think outside the box. And when you’re thinking outside the box, things can get pretty zany. In this feature, we share ten bizarre punishments that judges handed down for crimes.Sign Spinning For Six Years

We’ve all seen those guys standing on the corners of busy intersections, manipulating signs for local realtors or other businessmen. It’s not glamorous, but it’s a living. When Houston, Texas judge Kevin Fine prepared to lay down sentencing on Eloise Mireles, a county employee who embezzled a quarter of a million dollars from a fund intended to pay crime victims in 2010, he must have been inspired by those brave sign-spinners. In addition to paying back the cash, Mireles and her husband were made to stand at one of Houston’s biggest intersections with signs detailing their crimes every weekend for six years. (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

Slumlord Must Live In His Own Building

It’s generally a given that owners of tenements don’t live in the apartments they rent out. So when a judge in Cleveland was faced with a slumlord who had racked up dozens of building code violations on his units, he decided to make him face his cheapness head-on. Nicholas Dionisopoulos was given six months of house arrest in one of his worst buildings, as well as ordered to turn over all rent payments he received to the court to pay for repairs. He may only leave his tenement to go to church or fix one of his other decrepit buildings. (Photo Credit: Affordable Housing Institute)

Five Christmases In Jail

Some of the hardest times behind bars come around the holidays, as inmates suffer through Christmas without their families. That has to be what a judge in central Ohio was thinking about when he laid down a totally bizarre sentence on Betina Young. Young, a former state employee who got busted for selling fake IDs to illegal immigrants, was given five years probation with one special twist: every Christmas, she was required to report to jail for December 24th, 25th and 26th so she can spend those special days behind bars. (Photo Credit: Paul Project)

Knitting Sweaters

Let’s head over to Germany for this very strange story. 81 year old Heidi Kohl was brought in by the cops for slashing the tires of thoughtless parkers in her neighborhood. She was caught in the act, so it was an open and shut case. However, the elderly pensioner couldn’t possibly afford to pay the fine, so the sentencing judge had to get creative or throw her in debtor’s prison. The end result? Kohl was commanded to knit a sweater for the driver of every car she damaged – around 50 in total. She also moved to an assisted living facility where she no longer had to worry about parking. (Photo Credit: Ponto e virgula via Flickr CC)

Walk With A Donkey For A Day

Vandals Jessica Lange and Brian Patrick were given 45 days in jail for taking a statue of Jesus from a church nativity scene and spray-painting “666” on it before stabbing it with a knife, but Ohio judge Michael Cicconetti didn’t think that was quite enough. He ordered the duo to find a replacement statue of the newborn Christ and hand-deliver it to the church, but he also thought the town deserved a look at the two criminals. So he sentenced the duo to walk through Fairport Harbor’s snowy streets for a day leading a donkey that bore placards reading “Sorry For The Offense.” (Photo Credit: Hans Splinter via Flickr CC)

20 Hours Of Classical Music

The thing about many of these weird sentences is that they’re not exactly enforceable – the judge is just using them to make a point. So when a young man got a citation for playing hip-hop too loudly in his car, judge Susan Fornof-Lippencott decided to use her powers to try and teach him a lesson. She offered to take $35 off of his $150 fine if he would spend 20 hours listening to classical music. Unfortunately, he could only take about 15 minutes before he decided to just pay the full amount and get the heck out of there. (Photo Credit: Antonio Castagna via Flickr CC)

Do A Book Report On The Bible

Separation of church and state is a central tenet of America’s Constitution, but don’t tell that to judge Michael Nettles. When it was time for him to sentence a South Carolina woman named Cassandra Tolley for drunk driving and vehicular assault, he threw the book at her – literally. In addition to eight years in jail and five years of probation, he instructed Tolley to read the Book of Job in the Old Testament and write a report on it. The story of Job, in which a man suffers myriad humiliations and still doesn’t lose faith in God, doesn’t seem to have much to do with drunk driving, but we’re not ministers. (Photo Credit: George Bannister via Flickr CC)

Sleep In A Doghouse For A Month

The phrase “in the doghouse” has connotations of being a huge screw-up, and that’s one way to describe Texas man Curtis Robin Sr, who was convicted of beating a boy named Zachary Weigers with a belt and a car antenna, as well as making him sleep in a doghouse outside. Judge Buddie Hahn decided to make an example out of the scumbag and sentenced him to 30 days of his own medicine. A state-owned doghouse was placed on Robin’s property and he was forced to sleep in it for an entire month. He was also given eight years of probation and made to pay $1,000. ( Photo Credit: Froggie via Flickr CC)

Get Pepper Sprayed

This is another punishment handed down by Ohio judge Michael Ciccionetti, who has earned a reputation for his creative and often humiliating sentences. When a woman named Diamond Gaston was found guilty of assault after pepper spraying a man at a fast food restaurant, Ciccionetti gave her a choice: she could either go to jail, or let her victim squirt her with pepper spray in return. She chose the latter, but the rules of the court didn’t actually allow the judge to go through with it, so the canister was loaded with harmless saline solution instead. (Photo Credit: Marines via Flickr CC)

A Trip To Red Lobster

Let’s close with a sentence that’s so wrong-headed and bizarre it actually got the judge into a peck of trouble. John Jay Hurley presided over a domestic violence case in 2012 in which Joseph Bray grabbed his wife by the neck, causing her to fear for her life. Instead of fining or locking up Bray, Judge Hurley told him to take his wife out on a date to Red Lobster, give her flowers and take her bowling. This drew some fire from domestic violence advocacy groups, but no sanctions were taken against the judge. (Photo Credit: Mike Mozart via Flickr CC)



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