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Public shaming has been making its way back into the courts - including locally

Did You Know?

In the last decade, forms of public shaming have been making their way back. In one case, men convicted of soliciting prostitutes were placed on billboards. In another case, a thief had to post a sign in his front yard stating he was a thief. Cases like these are becoming more common across the country. Locally, district courts in Greene County, Sharp County and Lawrence County have all had defendants wear a sign such as “I know better than to shoplift” or “I am a convicted thief” in public places such as the courthouse.

Is it legal? Probably so. Generally speaking, judges today have quite a bit of discretion on how to sentence defendants. When done correctly, public shaming can be a powerful factor in rehabilitating defendants and deterring similar criminal conduct. In addition to the judge’s wide discretion, few of these shaming sentences are being appealed—the judges are largely preventing appeals by giving the defendants the option of the shaming punishments in lieu of jail time. Even if they are appealed, barring the most extreme examples, these shaming sentences will probably survive.


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