Lawbreakers Get Choice: Community Service Or Donate Food

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - People facing community service as part of a court sentence have been offered the alternative of donating food to the needy.

The alternative sentencing program in Municipal Court will continue through March 27.

"It is a benefit to the community," said Judge Mary Falvey. "It gives them an opportunity to contribute."

Since Wednesday, Falvey said, she has sentenced about 15 people to bring in food. As a general rule, two bags of groceries for the needy replaces 25 hours of community service.

"I asked for canned goods and nonperishable items," Falvey said. "I did it on particular cases, like first offenders for no operator's license, things like that."

Anthony Koukoutas, a defense attorney, believes the food collection is a worthy alternative. One of his clients, a Canton woman charged with disorderly conduct, will have to serve only half of her 100 community service hours if she brings in groceries.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)