Okay, let's see a show of (virtual) hands: How many of us have ever neglected to return a library book? I did it so much when I was a kid that I seriously thought my school/town/synagogue's libraries were going to stalk me down and wring my neck. I swear, I lived my 10-year-old life in fear for a while there! And while my worries were unnecessary, it looks like a guy in Texas should've been shaking in his boots over the book he failed to return!
Jory Enck found himself jailed last week over an unreturned GED study guide he checked out in 2010, according to court documents. Yes, I repeat: A man was actually arrested for failing to return a book to the library. Oh, what a world we live in! Criminals galore, and this is who they go after!
Apparently, Enck never responded to the library when it tried to get the book back from him (what a delinquent!). So they had no choice but to an enforce a real law that says anyone who's had an overdue book checked out for at least 90 days and has not responded to the library's attempts to get it back could eventually be arrested on an "overdue library materials warrant." Ha! So nuts!
It almost makes you wonder if this kind of extreme punishment for such a minor offense could mean we'll soon be getting cuffed for our most benign violations. What's next, going to the slammer for failing to return your shopping cart to the corral at the grocery? Reparking in a metered space after your two-hour limit is up?
The municipal judge who handled the crazy case admitted that their tactics here were controversial, but explained that "people that go to our library and can't have these materials, they're put out too." And he told the local news station that the library has spent "a tremendous amount of money" replacing books that were never returned.
Good points, and also a reminder that public libraries are, well, public, taxpayer-funded, etc. The books are for sharing, so what Enck did is pretty much stealing from the government. Still, throwing the guy in jail was obviously unnecessary. Although, after he was quickly released on bond, he did return the overdue book!
What's the craziest law you've ever heard of and seen enforced?
Image via Klaus Tiedge/Corbis