Woman spends a night in jail for forgetting to return movie

Emma Woollacott
Pile of videotapes on  white reflective background.
Pile of videotapes on white reflective background.

A woman has paid a high price for forgetting to return a movie to the store - a night in the cells.

Kayla Michelle Finley, 27, rented a VHS tape of Monster-In-law in 2005 from Dalton Videos in Pickens County. When she failed to return it, the business owner went to a magistrate who issued an arrest warrant.

But it was only ten years later, when Finley was at the Sheriff's Office on another matter, that officers unearthed the warrant and arrested her on a misdemeanour charge. And because a hearing couldn't be arranged for the same day, she spent a night in the cells.

"I'm no criminal, but Pickens County Sheriff's office sure made me feel like I was," she told CNN.

When it came to it, sheriffs decided not to pursue the charge - possibly feeling that watching the movie was punishment enough.

In today's world of downloads, movie rentals have all but disappeared, and Finley is likely to be the last person to face trouble for failing to return a video. In future, there won't be any video stores to complain.

But libraries tend to stick around a lot longer, and there are many cases of people returning them years - or even decades - after the due date.

In 2013, emeritus Professor John 'Jack' Foster of Queen's University Belfast returned The Poems of Arthur Hugh Clough 47 years late. He was let off the fine, which would have amounted to £8,577.50.

The following year, a Rugby Library user took advantage of a fines amnesty to return The Adventures Of Pinocchio - due back on New Year's Eve in 1950. In fact, the fine wouldn't have been all that great, as the local authority capped its late-return fines at £5.22.

But the biggest delay we've come across ended earlier this year, when Sir Jay Tidmarsh, 82, came across a copy of Ashenden by W Somerset Maugham, and discovered it had Property of Taunton School' printed inside. He'd left the school in 1949, making it at least 65 years overdue.

He volunteered to pay a 'fine', and gave £1,500 to the School Foundation, to go towards improving the library.

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