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May 18 2015

Celebrity ‘community service’ only serves the celebs

New York Post
Naomi Schaefer Riley

‘As with any volunteer, this would be under constant supervision . . . Volunteers are never left alone with children.”

That explanation was included in the letter the Duffield Children’s Center in Fort Greene sent home to parents last week regarding the impending visit of bad-girl Lindsay Lohan.

The misbehaving celebrity was at the children’s center to complete some of the 125 hours of community service she was sentenced to after engaging in reckless driving and lying to police officers.

And parents should rightly be concerned. Why would they want this alcoholic lunatic anywhere near their children?

But then why would we want any more criminal celebrities being integrated into the “community?”

A few years ago, Kanye West taught fashion at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College after he was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and grand theft.

He’d assaulted a photographer at the airport, and it wasn’t the first time.

The rapper T.I. spent 1,000 hours talking to kids about making good decisions after he was caught trying to buy machine guns from federal agents.

And Snoop Dogg did his time by coaching youth football after being arrested on gun and drug charges.

Which parents signed up their kids for that team?

It should be obvious that we don’t need criminals — no matter how famous — to be spending more time with our kids to repay their debts to society.

They have enough money to pay expensive lawyers to bargain down their sentences, but does that mean they should really be inflicted on the rest of us?

Perhaps they shouldn’t all be incarcerated — although I wouldn’t object if more of them were. But isn’t there something else besides community service? Bring back the stocks, perhaps? Or maybe not — I see a reality show in the making.

Chris Brown was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service for assaulting his ex-girlfriend Rihanna.

He wasn’t sent to explain to kindergartners how to keep their hands to themselves or to teach teenagers sex ed. Instead, Brown was sentenced to painting, cleaning, trash removal and furniture moving.

But even these tasks turn into circuses for celebrities. Some poor sanitation worker has to deal with giving Chris Brown instructions for 1,000 hours (not to mention the paparazzi). That’s a long time to be handling a spoiled felon.

In 2006, after singer Boy George was caught with cocaine in his apartment (he falsely reported a robbery in his Manhattan apartment and police found the drugs when they arrived), he was sentenced to a few days of street cleaning. Photographers were bothering the singer one day when this exchange took place:

“You think you’re better than me?” he yelled. “Go home. Let me do my community service . . . This is supposed to be making me humble. Let me do this,” he said.

Making them humble? Is that what is supposed to happen here?

The results of community service for your run-of-the-mill criminals are not particularly inspiring. A 1998 article in the International Criminal Justice Review found that “the effects of community service on reoffending are less clear than was expected.”

Spending time shredding paper in a child-care facility, as Lohan was forced to do, isn’t exactly the kind of job that scares people straight.

Maybe picking up garbage by the side of the road might be a little better.

But it seems a little absurd to expect that community service is going to knock these stars off their high horses.

They’re going to suddenly realize how good they have it and start behaving themselves? As soon as they leave these service stints they go right back to their cushy lives.

Unlike when people in the real world get in trouble, these run-ins with the law are just hiccups for celebrities. Community service is one more photo-op for them. If you wanted to really punish them, you’d put them in a room by themselves.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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