Tennessee Woman Jailed Over Poor Yard Work

220px-'JardimBotanico.BotanicalGarden.CuritibaParanaBrasilBrazilWe have previously discussed the criminalization of every element of American society. A new case in Lenoir City, Tennessee is the latest such example. Like many Americans, Karen Holloway has failed to keep her yard work up. Few Americans however have ended up in jail like Holloway after her failure to maintain her yard was turned into a criminal matter. It appears the above garden would be more in line with those wishing to avoid time in the slammer for their overgrown yards.

I have long been a critic of the criminalization of America where millions of citizens are finding themselves labeled as felons for acts that used to be treated as strictly civil matters. The trend toward criminalization feeds itself as politicians insist that their pet peeve (from feeding pigeons to missing parent-teacher meetings) are no less important than other crimes. The result is that everything is being translated into a criminal offense.
Karen Holloway was cited by Lenoir City officials for not keeping up her yard.

Holloway stated that she was sent a citation over the summer, but with her husband going to school and both working with only one vehicle (and two kids at home), she let the yard work slide. It is not clear why she was jailed rather than her husband or both owners.

She was given a five day jail sentence by Judge Terry Vann. She said that she was never told that she could have a lawyer or read her rights. Vann however insisted on jail time, though it was reduced to six hours. Vann suggested he might add on more jail time if the city isn’t satisfied with the yard work.

Source: Local 8

101 thoughts on “Tennessee Woman Jailed Over Poor Yard Work”

  1. The house next to ours was a lot like this one.
    We bought it recently, and have been rehabbing it.

    Lived next to it for 23 years as it slowly deteriorated, after the old man died and his crazy dtr-in-law completely stopped maintaining it.

    I did shovel their walk and mow and pick up garbage from their lawn.
    Never thought once of having them arrested.

  2. I wonder if they’d let her get a goat. That might get rid of some of the over growth. What an absurd story!!! Wait, I need to go and check my yard…

    1. maxcat- we have considered the goat thing and trading it between neighbors. 🙂

  3. I was disappointed that the the newsperson interviewing the Lanoir Chief of Police from MASkeptic above didn’t probe very much.

    1. Why not a fine?
    2. Why not hire a crew and charge her for the work?
    3. Has anything else been tried besides strongly worded official letters?
    4. Since the Lanoir City crime rate is above average, is this really an appropriate use of police and court time?

  4. DBQ

    Thanks for the link, That garden is not just a garden, it is a landscaping wonder, I would die to have a garden like that in my front yard. It is better landscaped than most front yards in this city. The size of those plants are amazing,

    I can understand a messy front yard, cars, engines, junk, etc, yes, that person should have to clean it up and in my town, if they don’t comply after several letters, then the beautification committee does it for them and the homeowner gets a bill for the expenses. However, in some cases the homes have been condemned and torn down. Those are usually empty and draw derelicts.

    I still say jail time is ridiculous and way over the line.

  5. Well, that link from MASkeptic did put a bit different light on it. The property is vacant and falling into disrepair. Basically a blighted property that brings down the values of every other property around it. It also can create health hazards by becoming a home to vermin as well as possibly becoming a fire hazard for the neighborhood.

    Many places have blighted property laws. It doesn’t seem that this is an issue of landscaping choices or a home owner association type of thing, but blight.

    She has grown children as seen in the video. There is no reason on earth that they and she could not get a rake, some pruning shears and tidy up the place. If she needed to have financial assistance or physical help, I imagine that the neighbors, out of their own self interest would have helped.

    However, jail time does seem a bit harsh even though I sympathize with the town for losing patience with her over these last 12 YEARS!! However, sometimes it does take a slap across the face to wake some people up.

  6. And with this kind of crime and civil disobedience going on, anyone wonders why these cities need those MRAPs, grenade launchers, and automatic rifles from the Feds?

  7. “For the last 12-13 years the property has been cited for abandoned cars and overgrown bushes and vines.

    That’s not what the police chief’s photos showed.
    Just overgrown bushes.

    Should have fined her and hired a crew to chop down the offending fauna, and send the bill to her.

    That’s what happens in my town.
    Jail time is overkill and thuggish for yard appearance problems.

  8. Tyger and Aridog – that’s how it should be. Neighbor helping neighbor. And Nick, I agree that kids should learn how to pitch in and help their elders.

    I oppose ordinances against edible gardens in the front, or native plantings, for the same reason. If we scrape up enough money to buy property, it’s ours to do with as we see fit.

    That’s one of the things we enjoy living out in a rural area – no neighbors right on top of you, but folks close enough by to look out for each other.

  9. @ Believer

    There have been several instances of people who wanted to plant vegetables instead of a grass lawn in their front yard and were fined or told to tear up the vegetables. In some cases they were in very attractive raised beds with nice cobbled walkways. Not an eyesore by any means and certainly a better use of water and space than a grassy lawn.

    I don’t have the links but I do think one case was in California and another in Florida.

    Beauty in landscaping as in all other things is in the eye of the beholder. Unless your landscaping is creating a health or fire hazard, it really should not be ILLEGAL to have a messy yard or a vegetable garden.

    The criminalization of every small aspect of our lives is just another way for the heavy hand of government to control us and squeeze more money from us. Each and every one of us likely is breaking several laws just in our daily activities and we don’t even know it.

    1. DBQ – our HOA would not allow gardens in the front or in gated back yards. If your backyard is completely enclosed your weeds can be 20 feet high and no one is going to do anything about them.

  10. This is unbelievable, what she should have done is have the yard plowed up, plant a full garden on the front lawn, preferable corn, pole beans, anything that is tall and ugly and listen to them bitch after that. Unless she lives in a gated community that has zoning rules about how the yard is kept, then it is her property and neighbors be dammed.

    I am sure she could find a few things about the town to create a bit of trouble for it………….. I know for a fact if you threaten a law suit against city hall, they will take action. I did it, almost broke my leg on the lawn at city hall during a rain storm on the slippery grass while trying to pay my water bill (there was no provision for people to walk or park who have handicaps) and when one of the police men coming out of the building asked me what the problem was, (me so mad at falling and hurting, I could spit nails) , I let him have it full blast, flat out told them they were in the wrong and if I broke anything, they would reap the rewards of a nice law suit. He could count on it. He could see I was walking with a cane and they had no provision for handicapped people nor parking and the sidewalks were torn up waiting to be re cemented muddy and filled with water. Lo and behold the next bill I went to pay…… there was a handicapped parking spot and several ramps I also found out from the mayor that my name had been brought up several times at the last city council meeting. At least the mayor knew me by name. Me, they don’t mess with and I am a good neighbor.

    Putting her in jail was way our of line.

  11. My goodness, but if I leave for a few days, the stuff needing Irish Poems just grows like weeds! This story has a lot more implications than is immediately evident! Just think for a minute! What if more people were like Karen Holloway, above???

    The Lawn Patrol???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    The Reporters reported at dawn
    Melancholy, with faces all
    They must struggle all day
    To replace the cliche’
    About houses with their fine trimmed lawn!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. mack, your link shows the back yards that front an alley. And, while across the street from city hall, it’s across the back parking lot of city hall. If you scroll around to the front of city hall and look at the front yards of the nearby houses, they are immaculate. The only trash I saw was one drink can near the alley.

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