Target: U.S. Courts
Goal: Ban the practice of sentencing criminals to public displays of humiliation as punishment for their crimes
“Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.” These are the words that Shena Hardin was ordered to write on a poster board and publicly display at the scene of her crime. Recently, on her way to work, whilst smoking and texting, she drove on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus that was stopped in front of her. Instead of a fine for misconduct or sentence of public service, Hardin was ordered to stand up with the poster for two hours as punishment for her crime. Petty wrongdoings such as this now warrant medieval retributions of public humiliation.
This ancient trend is resurfacing in courtrooms today, and controversy continues to grow. Not only does public shaming fail to teach the “criminal” his or her lesson, but it is unlikely it will significantly deter others from committing the same crime. Humiliation damages victims who are already sensitive or emotionally scarred, and such people will only suffer from such a vicious punishment.
The same sentence is useless against those who are either ignorant of their wrongdoing or proud of it. The sensitive should not be subjected to such a harsh public sentence and the proud gain nothing from it. Both would do better to pay a fine or spend hours in public service – the latter, an act that allows the severity of the crime to sink in. A few hours of public shame will only serve to damage the heart or harden it more.
For Shena Hardin, her public condemnation was a quick and easy way out. While certainly not enjoyable, she spent her two-hour long sentence holding up the sign with earplugs in and sunglasses on. It is unlikely she deterred future criminals from making an on-the-spot mistake as she did, and less likely that the sentence caused her to regret her actions. She is one of many who have suffered the failing system of current courthouse rule.
Petty crimes should never be dealt with in such a manner. There is a reason public humiliation ended in the medieval ages, and its resurfacing is a disturbance to all. Tell the United States courthouses that public shaming in place of fines and service is unacceptable. Criminality is no excuse for inhumanity, and the courts of this nation would do well do remember it.
Dear U.S. Courts,
Your adoption of public humiliation as a replacement for fines and public service is not acceptable. I do not approve of public shaming for petty crimes. This practice does little to encourage the guilty party to change behavior, and it does nothing to deter others from committing crime.
Such a punishment is medieval and unacceptable in today’s 21st century culture. Two hours of public shaming is not only harmful to those guilty of small crimes, but their time could be better served in public service, where they would have time to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistakes.
In addition, there is a reason our society abandoned the practice of public shaming many years ago. It is an inhumane and quick-fix method of dealing with crime – one that benefits none. Please leave the drama to the media, and sentence those guilty of petty crime to a more constructive punishment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: News Net 5