Rep. Jerry O’Neil, R-Columbia Falls, has a bill that would allow criminal defendants to bargain with a judge for corporal punishment in lieu of time behind bars.
You read that right.
Spanking instead of jail time.
I heard about this bill a couple weeks ago but hadn’t seen actual language until it started making the rounds on Facebook today.
According to the bill (which you can read here):
"…a person convicted of any offense by a court in this state, whether a misdemeanor or felony, may during a sentencing hearing as provided in 46-18-115 bargain with the court for the imposition of corporal punishment in lieu of or to reduce the term of any sentence of incarceration available to the court for imposition.”
“The court and the person convicted of an offense shall negotiate the exact nature of the corporal punishment to be imposed, which must be commensurate with the severity, nature, and degree of the harm caused by the offender. If the court and the offender cannot agree on the exact nature of the corporal punishment to be imposed, the court shall impose a sentence as provided in 46-18-201.”
“The imposition of a sentence under this section must be carried out by the sheriff of the county in which the crime occurred if the sentence for corporal punishment reduced or eliminated the term of incarceration in the county jail or by the department of corrections if the sentence reduced or eliminated the term of incarceration in the state prison. Any imposition of sentence pursuant to this section must be carried out within a reasonable time.”
The measure is already raising eyebrows and is sure to catch the attention of those on the lookout for “bat crap crazy” legislation this session. Republican leadership has been doing its best to tamp down any potential bills the other side might use to embarrass the GOP as they work to craft a budget. This one apparently didn’t get tamped.
As one Facebook commenter quipped: “Is Jerry O'Neill pandering to the masochist criminal lobby? I didn't even know that lobby existed.”
The bill was marked “ready for delivery” today but hasn’t yet been assigned to a committee. I’lll be sure to keep you posted.