New Hampshire residents near Keene celebrate an annual pumpkin festival at which attendees try to set a world record of the largest number of carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns in one place. Sounds like it would be a nice family gathering. It just so happens that students from nearby Keene State College also attend. Regrettably, a few of the students had too much to drink this past year, got out of hand, and wrecked the festival by basically starting a riot. According to onlookers, some people started throwing rocks, skateboards, buckets, and not so surprisingly, pumpkins. Aside from throwing things, the crowd also flipped over a car, tore down street signs, and set some fires in the streets. Police responded in riot gear and tried to disperse the crowds with tear gas.
A Rhode Island man may have broken a record by being charged with four separate driving under the influence cases in less than thirty-six hours. The 53-year-old man started the spree after taking a mid-morning Sunday drive, but the drive ended after the man crashed into a SUV that resulted in injuries to two children who were passengers in the SUV. The man was also treated at the hospital, but he was a less-than-exemplary patient after throwing a bottle filled with urine at the staff. The man was charged via summons with drunk driving and released.
A man couldn't wait for a McKean County bar to open, so he decided to let himself in through a window. The bar owner had noticed the man wandering around the establishment and had contacted police, but by the time law enforcement arrived, the man had already entered the bar and passed out at a table in the kitchen. The police arrested the man and filed a felony charge of Criminal Trespass and a summary offense of Public Drunkenness. The judge must not have felt that the man was too much of a danger because the bail was unsecured, meaning the man did not actually have to pay any money in order to remain free while the case is pending.
According to a recent Huffington Post article, 77% of Americans are in favor of putting an end to mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders. Many of the non-violent offenders are in prison based upon severe sentences that are imposed on drug-related crimes. For example, in Pennsylvania, one of the most ridiculous mandatory minimum sentences, commonly called the "drug-free school zone", imposes a two-year minimum sentence on a person that is convicted of delivery, possessing with intent to deliver, or manufacturing a drug within 1,000 feet of the real property of a school or 250 feet within the real property of a recreational facility. Many people would support such a law as they want to keep drug dealers and that type of activity away from children, and as a parent, I would probably support such a law. However, the definition of "school" includes colleges and universities, so a Penn State or Lock Haven student that sells a small amount of marijuana to a friend or gives him an Adderall pill faces a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. If the school zone mandatory sentence did not apply, a person charged with distributing less than one pound of marijuana who did not have a prior criminal record would generally face a probationary sentence up to one month in jail. It does not make sense that a person that sells marijuana 1,001 feet from a school can avoid jail time but a person selling on campus gets a two-year sentence in a state correctional facility. While such students should be punished for illegal activity, the punishment should fit the crime.