Check Your Bookshelves : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Woman Jailed For Overdue Books 24-Year-Old Owes $120 Posted: 9:38 a.m. EDT April 11, 2002

HAZELTON, Pa. -- A judge has thrown the book at a Pennsylvania woman who didn't pay her library fine.

The judge sentenced 24-year-old Theresa Keller to jail this week until she forks over $120 in late fees for three overdue books.

Reference librarian Jane Dougherty filed a private criminal complaint against Keller for not returning the books -- "Star Trek," "Triangle," and "Fall of Freddie the Leaf."

Dougherty said charges are filed against patrons who don't pay a bill or return books after the library sends them a notice. Those who ignore a court summons are sent to jail.

The books were checked out Sept. 14, 2000. Keller was sent a bill the next month, charging her $40 per book.

Keller declined to comment. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

I can hardly believe this. Last week I heard of a judge in Mass who let a rapist go with parole and told the victim to "get over it". Another case of a man in Mass who was let not given sufficient by a judge, even though he had threatened his wife, and had a restraining order against him to stay away from his wife. He promptly goes to her house where he kills her. The above mentioned woman goes to jail over library books, two dangerous individuals are set free. Where is the equity of law being applied here? What am I missing here? It is getting worse every day it seems. Where will it end, if it ever does? Oy Vey

Sorry Ardie, but that really applies here.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, April 12, 2002



The last paragraph should read: Mass who was let go , and not given sufficient bail to hold him by a judge.

-- Bob in WI (, April 12, 2002.

If you were to steal $120 from someone, it would be grand theft. When you get a library card, you agree to the terms . At average fine rates, the books would be over 4 months overdue. Notices would have been sent and legal avenues pursued that resemble a bad check procedure. Just out of curiosity, if someone wrote you a bad check or entered into agreement with you and deprived you of your property or money for months or years, would you follow legal avenues and support the threat of incarceration to force restitution to you?

It does at least get books back to the libraries so they don't have to replace stolen ones from their usually strapped funding.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, April 12, 2002.

Seems a little extreme! Here in my little town the public library does not charge overdue fines. They will take a donation if you feel guilty and want to make one but they don't ask for any.

-- BJC (it', April 12, 2002.

And as far as the rapist goes, turn em into a eunich. The two are different types of crime and both need to be addressed. It would be better if the crime of violence was addressed as the property crimes are. The more time spent correcting existing legal needs, the less time they can spend adding new ways to rob other rights.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, April 12, 2002.


I am sure that you are aware that the amount needed for a theft to be called grand theft varies by state. It seems odd that, in some states, for about $100 you would be a felon losing voting rights and gun possession privileges, and getting a permanent criminal record, which of course makes getting a job difficult to say the least. That does seem a little harsh to me. (All because of a library book fine).

Yes, I have been been deprived of my money on several occasions that I am aware of. I proceeded to get my money back in each case, but for one reason or another I never got a cent out of any of them.

The last and largest of the losses was due to mail fraud, a federal crime. I was contacted by the FBI about this one and gave them all kinds of information. The woman involved declared bankruptcy, so none of the people who were robbed will ever get a cent, but she gets to keep her house and car etc.. I really didn't care what happpened to her, I just wanted my money back. No such luck.

Another time my business received a bad check. The DA told me he didn't have time to work on a such a "small" case. I responded to him "if it is so small why don't you give me the money from your wallet". Well, if looks could kill I would have been dead right there.

Yes they are two different types of crime. But I ask the obvious question. Who should be in jail? A person who steals a few books from the library, or a convicted rapist. A person who steals a few books or a man who has threatened to kill his wife. In my mind there can only be ONE ANSWER. The person who poses the biggest threat to society should be in jail.

Rape is not a sex crime,it is a power trip, so castrating them would only change their method of wielding power over a weaker individual. It would in all probability change to increased violence. (Psych 101)

I have no problem with crimnals spending lots of time in jail, I just think that the crimes mentioned show that there is something very wrong with our judicial system.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, April 12, 2002.

Yes I am aware of the varying limits. Here in AL the limit is $25. You do a crime you pay the price. It is not proper that interpretation of penalties should be so wide. However , it is neither acceptable to qualify one crime against the other. The way the book theft is now addressed is excellent and violent crimes such as rape should be addressed to make the punishment more appropriate also.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, April 12, 2002.

The library theft should be punished, and the rapist should be punished and the domestic violence should be punished, etc. etc. etc. the problem is the picking and choosing of what ought to be "punished" as I see it. BTW, having been born in Massachusetts and having lived there for quite some time and having relatives who still insist on living there, I must say that anyhting done on that state can hardly be held up as an example of how to DO anything legally. Any populace who keeps Ted Kennedy in office for decades obviously has a massive problem to begin with....I noted with interest in the case of the "Hockey dad" convicted of manslaughter in the great commonwealth, that the judge hearing that case thought it to be of significant import that the man accused of the crime had been brought before the court 12 years previously for striking his wife, thereby demonstrating his "penchant for extreme violence"..yet in the very next breath, the same judge decried the defense attorneys' attempt to introduce the victims' prior history of being incarcerated for assaulting a police officer as " an insulting attempt to smear the reputation of the victim of this vicious assault"....huh? Massachusetts judges and their weird remarks/decisions have fascinated me for years and years. When Massachusetts decides to actually consistantly put away real criminals, and the other states decide to actually enforce ALL the existing laws, no one will be surprised when folks who break the laws actually go to jail!

-- lesley (, April 13, 2002.


Thats the point I was trying to present. I had a friend that got five years for pot possesion and the same day a guy convicted of raping his ex wife got 2 years probation and walked out of the court a restricted yet freely moving person while pothead was housed. Both should have gotten crossbar time.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, April 13, 2002.

I'm with you Jay..that's one reason we decided to stay in Alabama..they haven't gone insane here yet on a wide-spread basis in the courts..a few whackos here and there, but I suspect they are imports..LOL....My brother in an attorney in Boston, a defense lawyer..other than that, he's a nice guy.

-- lesley (, April 13, 2002.

The intelligent way to have handled this would have been for the judge to garnish her wages or tax refund, or make her perform community service (perhaps at the library, lol), not send her to jail.

As to other crimes and sentences, I am constantly amazed by the inconsistency. In some places, cruelty to animals (which I do think is a serious issue) gets more punishment than crimes against people--go figure.

-- GT (, April 14, 2002.

I don't know if it applies in the PA or not. With the mandatory sentancing, "3 strikes your out" laws, this person could have been sent to do MAJOR hard time for overdue book fines. Wouldn't that suck?

-- John in S. IN (, April 14, 2002.

Easiest solution is to be mature and responsible and return the books on time. Most who think its so bad fail to realize that these book thieves recieve 5 to 7 notices , some by certified mail and arrest notices delivered to them. They have opportunities to pay the fine and replace the books before the arrest. They actually arn't being arrested for overdue books when it gets to that point, instead they are being arrested for insubortination of our legal system. They should grow up and accept responsibility for their actions.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, April 15, 2002.

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