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Associated Press, Published May 02 2012

Hungry homeless man gets arrested intentionally

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Lance Brown was hungry and homeless, so he decided to get thrown in jail by hurling a brick through a glass door at the Columbus courthouse building.

Faced with more nights on the street, Brown, 36, said he thought lofting the brick through the building would give him at least a few hours in a place where “someone’s going to offer me a sandwich and drink.”

Brown, 36, spent nine months in jail before his April trial. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to another month behind bars, and three years of probation that includes a six-month stay in a halfway house.

Brown’s case illustrates the struggle prosecutors face when dealing with homeless defendants who resort to crime to seek the safety of prison. They weigh whether to devote scarce resources to prosecuting a lower-level offense with the burden that comes with upholding the law and deterring others from breaking it.

Robert Marbut, a national homelessness consultant, said it’s rare for homeless offenders to spend more than a night or two in custody, let alone almost a year. He said there needs to be more alternative sentences to teach homeless offenders life skills.