Judge John Clinton: Five Better Reading Options Than Christian Books For Defendants

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We were upset to see Harris County Criminal Court Judge John Clinton get pilloried by godless ACLU-types who had problems with him offering defendants the option of writing a book report on a "Scripture-based workbook."

After some criminal defense attorneys, and the ACLU's Texas chapter, alleged that Clinton's plan violated the Constitution, the judge dropped the option. Clinton explained his thinking to KHOU: "I'm just trying to think outside the box. Trying to mold the punishment to help these individuals, instead of set them up to fail."

Co-authored by a Christian counselor and a doctor of divinity, The Heart of the Problem has tests that allow readers to "mark the level at which you have allowed God to change your heart." These levels are measured on a point system of 0-10, with "sin controlled" on the low end and "spirit controlled" on the high. (There's also a chapter on "Carnality," which sadly wasn't available for preview on Amazon.com.)

According to KHOU, "Clinton said if any of the defendants who were sentenced to reading the book would like to choose something else, they are welcome to do so." Therefore, Hair Balls would like to suggest some books that we have relied on to show us the light in dark times.

5. Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game, by Pimpin' Ken (with Karen Hunter)

You might say, "There's no way a book about criminal activity can be a positive influence on criminals," but then you'd just be a triflin' ho -- or what Pimpin' Ken calls a "Suzy Choosy." Look, in 192 pages, Mr. Ken offers lessons similar to those in The Heart of the Problem -- like the salient points in Law 16, "Give Motivation and Inspiration," which segues into Law 17, "Get You a Bottom Bitch." Ken's financial advice on turning "ho ends into dividends" is priceless; and there's simply no greater universal life lesson than Law 1, "Purse First, Ass Last." This is a book that can turn your life around.

4. Latawnya the Naughty Horse Learns to Say "No" to Drugs, by Sylvia Scott Gibson

No doubt a lot of the defendants who've found themselves before Judge Clinton have had drug problems. What better way to steer them on a path to recovery than a book about anthropomorphic horses with monkeys on their backs? We're guessing that, like Latawnya, not every drinkin' and druggin' defendant was born a bad seed. They just succumbed to peer pressure at some point.

Although Latawnya's sisters Daisy and Latoya resisted the urge to fall in with a bunch of equine delinquents one day, Latawnya was not so strong. Gibson writes: "So when Latawnya, the naughty horse, saw Connie smoking drugs and drinking, Latawnya started smoking drugs and drinking too." But fortunately, Latawnya had family looking out for her. Her sister Daisy swiftly "slapped the alcohol and drugs out of Tawnya's hoof," and soon Latawnya "found out that smoking and drinking were not as good or as easy as they looked when Connie was smoking drugs and drinking." It's a book that not only teaches a valuable lesson, but warms your heart.

3. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, by Vincent Bugliosi

This true-crime classic shows you how it's done. Whatever piddling misdemeanors brought these defendants to Judge Clinton's court pale in comparison to a home nvasion that involves the writing on the walls in a victim's blood and the pre-slaughter utterance of the phrase "I'm the devil and I'm here to do the devil's business." If nothing else, Helter Skelter can open up a small-time scofflaw's eyes to the full spectrum of deviant behavior. It's ambition in book form.

2. The Story of O, by Pauline Reage

You can't commit any more crime if you're too busy spankin' it.

1. The Goose Is Loose, by Rich "Goose" Gossage

The Goose says: "The worst thing any player can do is take the game home and mentally replay it over and over."

The Goose says: "Do what you do for love, not money, and do it with great passion."

The Goose says: "Being a closer on a baseball team is like working a high wire without a net. There's no margin for error."

The Goose will show you the way. He will set you free. The Goose will give you what you've been missing. More than any other book, The Goose Is Loose will help you get to the heart of the problem.

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