Poetry as punishment? Not a good idea. Most kids already think a class in poetry is tantamount to punishment! This will hammer it home.
Poor Robert Frost. He must be rolling over in his grave.
I know the judge's heart was in the right place. If the kids were taught Frost's poetic legacy, and could relate to his humanity, then perhaps they'd understand the gravity of their misbehavior.
The professor who taught the classes, Jay Parini, seems to think the course was of value, as a recent interview on NPR reveals.
Here's a little of Frost's poem, "The Vindictives" that I think fits well with the punishment theme,
'The best way to hate is the worst.
'Tis to find what the hated need,
Never mind of what actual worth,
And wipe that out of the earth.
Let them die of unsatisfied greed,
Of unsatisfied love of display,
Of unsatisfied love of the high,
Unvulgar, unsoiled, and ideal.
Let their trappings be taken away.
Let them suffer starvation and die
Of being brought down to the real.'
Read the whole poem in any of these books: Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays, A Further Range, The Road Not Taken: A Selection of Robert Frost's Poems, all in [811 FRO]