Creative Sentencing

A man sentenced, along with his wife, paces up and down a Lufkin street, holding a sign that says his children don't attend school. Billy Ball thinks the punishment is fitting. He sentenced the two after their children racked up more than 100 unexcused absences from school.

Judge Billy Ball, the Justice of the Peace for Precinct One said, "We've ordered parents to ride the bus with their child because of consequences occurring on the buses, we've ordered parents to attend school with their child and actually go to school with their child which we can do under the law."

Judge Ball sees mostly truancy cases, where students have too many absences from school. He's dished out many punishments, some have included walking with signs, and some writing quotes on sheets of paper. But he says some of his best work is when those he sentences give back to the community.

Judge Ball said, "Back during the Christmas time, we were trying to send something positive, so in lieu of a fine or community service, we had them bring food to the court."

Judge Ball collected the canned food and donated it to the Salvation Army. He also sentenced some to volunteer at the organization as a community service.

Captain Lola Maldonado of the Salvation Army said, "They help in the warehouse, they help in the food pantry, they help picking up around the buildings sometimes. Depending on the gravity of the fine they have to pay so if we have them here a week or a month, it really helps us out."

One person sentenced to bring food to the Salvation Army actually donated more than his sentence called for. Judge Ball believes punishments like these can have a positive impact and keep offenders from coming back to his courtroom.

Judge Ball says he doesn't use the signs as punishment much anymore. He says he now often sends offenders to sort the garbage at the recycling center.