Jail Time for Overdue Library Books

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The Smoking Gun has the story of a 28-year-old Iowa man now serving ten days in jail for failing to return library books and other items he had checked out from the Newton Public Library. He pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor theft count after library officials called in the police, having been unable to get the man to return his 27 items despite repeated attempts to contact him.

The library valued the books at $770.67. The miscreant had to pay restitution and was fined another $625, in addition to the ten days in the slam. No details were available as to whether the library got back any of its items, or what those items may have been.

This guy is not the first to face charges (criminal charges, that is) for overdue library materials, but doing jail time for this is pretty rare. Last year, Aaron Henson was arrested for allegedly failing to return a "House of Flying Daggers" DVD to the Bemis Public Library in Colorado. In that case, though, it turned out Henson had already returned the DVD, but for some reason the arrest warrant was issued anyway. When the city council looked into that, they found that the judge involved had issued lots of other unjustified bench warrants, and so ironically it was the judge who ended up getting in trouble because of an overdue DVD.

Then there was George Washington, who was also accused last year of failing to return two books he checked out in 1789, although he managed to avoid the enormous overdue fees thanks to being conveniently dead. Some Washington sympathizers later bought the library a replacement, yet another example of a powerful man's cronies getting him off the hook.