sister act whoopi goldberg.jpgOur little throwaway post from yesterday afternoon — about three nuke-protesting nuns, who previously served prison terms for their protests, and who may be returning to prison for refusing to pay restitution to the military — prompted several reader comments.
The discussion turned dangerously substantive. The law of restitution was discussed; actual statutes were cited. What the heck is going on?
We’ll leave theories of punishment and technical legal issues to people who know better (e.g., sentencing gurus Doug Berman and Dan Markel). We have some practical advice to offer the Dominican sisters.
Ladies: Having a hard time coming up with $3,000 in restitution? Yeah, that vow of poverty is a bitch. But here’s an idea: Sell the movie rights to your story, and make restitution out of the proceeds.
The cinematic possibilities are endless. Here are three:

1. A Susan Sarandon star vehicle. ‘Cause Sarandon loves to get her “crusading nun” on. See, e.g., Dead Man Walking.

A nun who goes to prison for dousing missile silos with her own blood — then goes to prison again, for refusing to pay blood money to the military? Hello, Oscar!!! (Bonus points if Sarandon frumps herself up and gains twenty pounds for the role.)

2. A comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg. Working title: “Sister Acting Up: Back in the Habit (of Destroying Federal Property).”

Whoopi hasn’t had a hit in years; but this could turn things around for her. As all of Hollywood knows: Nuns + Nuclear Weapons = Box Office Gold!

3. An updating of The Sound of Music. Think “post-modern movie musical,” a la Moulin Rouge. It would be set in a nuclear missile storage facility instead of the Austrian hills. Maria, a young Dominican nun, goes to an anti-nuclear weapons protest. She meets a handsome fellow protestor, George Von Trapp — a widower with seven kids.

Von Trapp asks Maria to babysit when he has to attend a protest in another city. Maria hits it off with the kids, then falls in love with Von Trapp. After much agonizing, she decides to leave her religious order to “follow her heart.”

But then Maria is arrested, jailed, and convicted on federal charges of malicious destruction of property and interfering with the national defense. Bummer!

The climactic scene takes place at the sentencing hearing. The exasperated judge turns to defense counsel and asks: “How do I solve a problem like Maria?”

Maria’s defense lawyer responds by calling the seven Von Trapp kids to the stand. They testify seriatim about how wonderful Maria is, how they can’t go on without her, etc. Deeply moved by their testimony, the judge sentences Maria to time served. Hooray!

Earlier: These Nuns Deserve a Break Today

nuns walking.jpgThis strikes us as a bit unreasonable:

A federal judge has rejected the community-service plans he requested 10 months ago from three nuns convicted of hurting national defense when they protested U.S. nuclear policies at a missile silo. That means Dominican Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson could face more time in jail if they refuse to pay $3,082 in restitution to the Air Force.

“We are surprised. I’m trying to make sense of it,” Platte, 70, said Monday after learning of the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blackburn. “There’s no way we could pay the military. It would be impossible for us to give money to the military because of what they would do with it. And the judge knows that. He knows our conscience.”

It’s not like these nuns have escaped without punishment for their protest. The three sisters have already served significant prison terms — of 30, 33, and 41 months — and have collectively performed “more than 148 YEARS of combined community service, including counseling inmates and raising $600,000 in charitable contributions for literacy programs, soup kitchens and aid for victims of disasters.”
(And doesn’t the federal restitution statute require the district court to consider the defendants’ ability to pay? We’re talking about Dominican nuns here. Haven’t they taken a vow of poverty?)
Nuns May Land Back in Prison As Judge Insists on Restitution [Denver Post via How Appealing]