Banishment sounds like the most serious of punishments, reserved for people who have truly broken all of a society's laws. But in 21st-century Georgia, people have found themselves banished for such offenses as DUIs and shoplifting

Not banished from the nation, but banished from at least their own county. As far as the court's concerned, this keeps the criminal from damaging the county for the duration of the sentence, so it's as good as a prison sentence, and a lot cheaper. For the criminal, abandoning their home can be inconvenient, but they too agree it's better than prison, so they generally don't contest the sentence. 

The court would probably prefer to banish the criminal from Georgia altogether rather than just the county. They can't do this because the state constitution forbids it. The founding document is very specific about this. It bans exactly two punishments: whipping and banishing someone from the state.

However, courts have figured out a workaround. Georgia has 159 counties. So though a judge can't banish someone from the state altogether, they can legally banish someone from 158 counties. Most often, they'd banish someone from every county except for Echols County, a swampy spot to the south, with the assumption that everyone will choose to fully flee Georgia instead of moving to Echols.

Georgia's last case of banishment we know of was in 2011, when a man was charged with aggravated assault for firing his gun at a couple different buildings. Following his early release from prison, Georgia banished him from several counties, including DeKalb County, where his mother lived. He appealed, and the court revised their sentence: Instead, they'd banish him from every county except DeKalb County. 

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Top image: bubba73/Wiki Commons

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