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Throw the book at them

Literature has featured in sentencing for the wrong reasons, but could reading be a novel punishment, asks Richard Easton

25 February 2014

Literature has featured in sentencing for the wrong reasons, but
could reading be a novel punishment, asks Richard Easton

In Sir Walter Scott’s 1816 novel Old Mortality, the merciless royalist General Claverhouse wishes an unusual punishment to befall his prisoner, our brave hero, the wronged Presbyterian Henry Morton:

“Did you ever read Froissart?”

“No” was Morton’s answer.

“I have half a mind,’ said Claverhouse, “to contrive you should have six months’ imprisonment in order to procure you that pleasure.”

And on 27 January this year that is exactly what US District Court Judge Ann Aiken of the federal court in Portland, Oregon, did when sentencing eco-s...

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