Utah Judge Orders Felons to Read Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Misérables’

Now here’s some hard labor we can get behind. Judge Thomas Willmore of 1st District Court in Logan, Utah, says that he sometimes orders convicted defendants to read Victor Hugo’s 19th-century novel, Les Misérables (and write him a short book report about the work, no less) as part of their sentence. In the novel, a desperate Jean Valjean steals from M. Beinvenue, a bishop who shelters him, and when he is dragged back by the police, the bishop pardons him without any motive other than goodness. Valjean decides that for this act of charity and kindness, he must devote his life to helping others. The entirety of the novel is occupied with dissecting the ideas of guilt, right and wrong, and the criminal justice system, as Valjean struggles against the idea that if he was a criminal once, he must be so forever. Willmore considers the book to be a useful method of rehabilitation, and “hopes it helps people understand not all is lost simply because they have committed a crime, and he uses it most for first-time offenders — especially those who seem to have given up hope.” We think this is a wonderful way to broaden the minds of convicted criminals (or anyone, for that matter), and love that Judge Willmore cares enough to read book reports in his spare time. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

[via the Daily Herald]