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Thursday, March 11, 2010

They're Coming to Take You Away

Look out, American readers. Times are tough, taxes can't be raised much higher, and libraries across the land are desperate. Well...some libraries in parts of Colorado are desperate enough to throw your sorry butt in jail if you don't return that DVD you borrowed from them. Remember, the key word is "borrowed." Libraries don't give those things away just because you'd like to have a copy of your own but are too cheap to actually, you know...pay for one.

From ABC News, with Diane Sawyer, comes the story:

The answer from the Colorado State Patrol stunned him. Henson never returned the DVD he'd checked out of the Littleton library, and there was a warrant out for his arrest.

"I was just shocked," he said. "I was like 'What? I've got a what now?'"

After spending eight hours in a county jail, during which time he was fingerprinted, photographed and booked, Henson's father bailed him out. He had tried calling his mother for help, but she didn't seem to believe him, telling Henson there was no "book police."
[...]
City spokeswoman Kelli Narde said Littleton lost $7,800 in lost library materials in 2009, including Henson's DVD. They issued 81 summonses for failure to return library materials, she said. "And 80 of them were resolved without a problem."

The warrant Henson was brought in on in January was actually for failure to appear. The town claimed it sent numerous bills, notices, a summons and a notice of a court date, but they apparently were all sent to a previous address and Henson saw none of them.

"I understand the city was following its procedure ... but when somebody's not informed of a court date and then they're getting arrested on the side of the road, getting embarrassed, having fear and all that, it just doesn't sit well with me," Henson said.

Narde said they don't buy that Henson never knew they were looking for the DVD, noting that they left two cell phone messages and that their notices didn't get returned by the postal service meaning someone had to have picked them up at his old address.
[...]
Narde said the city council met Tuesday and agreed to research a possible revision to the policy on issuing arrest warrants in similar cases.

"In the meantime the court and the police department have been directed not to issue any summons for failure to return library materials," she said.

The city has also refunded the $460 the arrest cost the Hensons and promised to wipe the incident off Henson's record...
So what do you think? Is this as crazy as it first sounds or is there a lesson to be taught to those egomaniacs who always seem to believe that laws don't really apply to people like them. After all, our Congressmen certainly behave this way, so why can't the rest of us? Personally, I hope the guy learned a lesson and that the publicity got through a few other thick skulls along the way. But, hey, that's just me.
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