Boulder City Councilman Macon Cowles
Boulder City Councilman Macon Cowles (Courtesy photo)

City Councilman Macon Cowles wants petty criminals who hang out in central Boulder banished from the city, rather than jailed.

In an email to the council's "hotline" email listserv, Cowles cited Shakespeare to demonstrate that banishment might be a better deterrent than other penalties for the multiple minor offenses committed by some people who hang out downtown.

In "Romeo and Juliet," Romeo responds with these words when he learns he is to be banished for brawling with the Capulets:

"Ha, banishment! Be merciful, say 'death,'

For exile hath more terror in his look,

Much more than death. Do not say 'banishment.'"

"What does Shakespeare have to say about crimes and social misbehavior that may be helpful in addressing the criminal conduct that occurs in a cluster on the municipal campus?" Cowles wrote. "As I thought about the disregard of law that is revealed in the statistics provided on criminal and contemptuous conduct, I thought of banishment as a substitute for incarceration in the county jail."

At the City Council meeting, other members did not express strong support for the idea of banishment, though they did favor the use of exclusion orders to keep repeat offenders out of specific areas.

But Cowles said banishment could also help repeat offenders change their ways.

"It's a good way of taking care of the problem and rehabilitating them," he said. "You can actually help people get on a better road for their own lives, that they make different friends and make different choices. That's the hope, at least."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.