PAINESVILLE, Ohio (CNN) — A judge gave an Ohio teen arrested for vandalism a choice between jail or painting a building’s railing.
However, he could not use a paintbrush to do the job.
It was a hot day Friday to serve any sentence, but even given the heat, it beat the 10 days in jail that spray painting graffiti on a railroad caboose could have earned.
There were precautions, water, sunscreen, even at times a mask and gloves for the dust.
A can of Cleveland-based paint at the ready.
Then came the painting… with a toothbrush.
Judge Michael Cicconetti’s sentence clearly meant to punish Avery White and send a message.
“Somebody will think twice, maybe they’re gonna vandalize or paint something else,” said chief probation officer Dave Washlock. “The message is clear: you’re caught in this courts jurisdiction, this could be you.”
It was likely not an accident that White showed up for his punishment in a shirt that was spray painted with graffiti-like swirls and shoes that likely took a lot longer and something more than spray paint to create.
But why a toothbrush?
Apparently, the judge wanted to make it a challenge. With a paint brush, the job of painting the railings on the Painsville Municipal Courthouse would have been done in minutes, not a couple of hours.
The work was done under the watchful eyes of White’s probation officer and a city maintenance worker who gave the final OK on the job.
White said the judge’s creative sentence worked.
“I walked in there fully expecting to go to jail,” he said. “Sadly, but I was very relieved when I found out he was gonna do a creative sentencing option.”
In case White ever has any trouble learning the day’s lessons, he took home a reminder — the toothbrush he used to paint the railing.
Cicconetti is known for his creative sentencing. He once sentenced a man to mowing grass with a manual mower after the man mowed obscenities into a school lawn.
Another time, he ordered a thief who stole a life preserver to hand out fliers about preventing drownings.