Christmas Justice: A Look at Some Not-So-Jolly Holiday Crackdowns

 In Criminal
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From playing non-stop Christmas carols in prison to passing out holiday cards with arrest warrants, many law enforcement agencies get into the holiday spirit. Some say they do it the name of public safety and peace on earth, while others may just be feeling a bit, well, Scroogey. Take a look at these holiday crackdowns, roundups and rules. What do you think — naughty or nice?

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1. A Miranda Christmas Card.

During a Virginia drug bust a few days before Christmas in 2014, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office gave suspects something with their arrest warrant: a Christmas card. The card, which featured the sheriff dressed as Santa, listed their Miranda warnings under a headline that read “Making Spirits Bright With Your Miranda Rights.” It was signed, “Merry Christmas, Sheriff Mike Brown and the BCSO Family.”

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2.  No Joyous Jurors Allowed.

In 1993, in the small town of Mercer, Pennsylvania, three judges postponed all jury trials until after the holidays. Apparently, the judges were concerned that jurors would catch the Christmas spirit, hear schoolchildren caroling, and be more lenient toward defendants, according to an article in the New York Times. Since then, other legal experts have speculated about the so-called “Christmas Clemency” or the ‘‘Christmas effect,” basically the notion that jurors are more sympathetic in the days and weeks surrounding Christmas and give lighter sentences.

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3. Sheriff Cranks Up the Christmas Carols

In 2005, Phoenix’s Joe Arpaio, then the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” in America, began a holiday tradition of playing almost around-the-clock Christmas music to 8,000 inmates in his Maricopa County jails. The playlist included Rudolph and “anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks,” according to the Washington Times.  Many inmates did not enjoy this holiday cheer, and over the years, several sued, citing violations of their civil and religious rights and cruel and unusual punishment.

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4. Operation Season Greetings

In December 2010, more than 70 fugitives in Florida were arrested in the days before Christmas during a roundup dubbed “Operation Seasons Greetings.” The goal of the round up, which was led by United States Marshals Florida Regional Task Force, was to “round up as many fugitives as possible prior to the holidays.”

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5. All I Want for Christmas – is a Calendar of Mugshots?

Europol, Europe’s top crime agency, launched an online advent calendar earlier this month that will reveal Europe’s most wanted criminals every day in the run-up to Christmas. The agency hit a snag, however, when data protection rules prevented it from publishing full pictures of the alleged criminals’ faces, according to Euronews. The mugshots are being published with a black sensor bar over their eyes.

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6. Tis the Season to  … Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

What would Christmas be without holiday crackdowns on drunk drivers? From coast to coast, law enforcement agencies implement checkpoints, zero tolerance or ‘no refusal’ initiatives in an effort to prevent and combat driving while intoxicated. But it doesn’t stop there. Law enforcement also launch sweeps to net alleged thieves, prostitutes, people behind on child support and bars selling booze to underage students home for the holidays. Such enforcement efforts sometimes carry catchy names, such as Operation Safe Christmas, Operation SANTA and Operation Scrooge. And while these initiatives are sometimes controversial, they are effective. Many people spend their holidays in handcuffs.

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