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April 14, 2008

T-shirt approach to shaming sanctions

Thanks to this post at TalkLeft, I see that renown Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio has a new shaming punishment in the works.  This AP story provides the details:

Female inmates in Maricopa County have been on chain gangs since 1996.  Now, 15 of them will be wearing T-shirts that say, "I was a drug addict," as they remove trash from a Phoenix street today.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said the move is designed to discourage young people from using drugs.  Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Paul Chagolla said nearly half the women on the chain gang were addicted to crystal meth.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the women have sad stories about what drugs have done to their lives and that they want to help others make better choices than they did.

April 14, 2008 at 08:13 AM | Permalink


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Maybe they Should make a shirt that says I live in a country that is unwilling or unable to keep illegal drugs out of my country.

Posted by: | Apr 14, 2008 9:54:13 AM

That would be a stupid shirt. Unable, yes. Unwilling, no.

Posted by: | Apr 14, 2008 10:21:05 AM

Unable? Have you ever been to Saudi Arabia? Two less drug smugglers in the world Today!!


Posted by: USMC | Apr 14, 2008 1:00:15 PM

Guys like Arpio would be out of business if the drug trade was eliminated or made legitimate.

USMC, My guess is that there are at least TEN MORE drug smugglers. Certainly, killing a couple will not discourage anyone from drug smuggling.

It is strange that you reject American values (and everything America stands for), and applaud killing people for something less than murder without even a jury trial.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 14, 2008 1:19:58 PM

These victims of the drug war are in Sheriff Joe's prison, and he thinks he's going to "shame" them by wearing a tshirt? He's a smart man, playing the public and getting free publicity. Oh, isn't Sheriff Joe so tough?

Posted by: babalu | Apr 14, 2008 1:25:37 PM

USMC, I suppose the Supreme Court may move the goalposts in Kennedy and/or Baze, but I'm fairly confident when I say that if the United States or any individual state began executing drug mules by beheading them with a sword, that would probably be unconstitutional.

I suppose that the states and the federal government could go ahead and defy the courts, but I don't think they'd be able to do it without a lot of difficult.

So yes, people could wear those T-shirts, and they'd be literally true, but the implicit message they'd send is that they're suffering because Congress and the executive refuse to defy the courts by instituting sharia and beheading drug mules with swords.

Hilarious? Yes. Persuasive? No, unless you're Osama bin Laden.

Posted by: 10:21 | Apr 14, 2008 1:40:41 PM

The beauty of it is, is that we have no way of know whether they were drug users, dealers, smugglers, or anything else. They could just as easily have been the political opposition. Saudi Arabian culture is such that their government does not provide for open trials and/or jury trials, so there is no way that we can know what kind of strange Arab government USMC wants to impose on real Americans.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 14, 2008 1:44:56 PM

Strange that I am rejecting American Values after having fought for them!! Ever been to Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: USMC | Apr 14, 2008 2:06:47 PM

Yes, you have rejected American values. There is nothing in any of your posts that indicates that you have adopted a single one of them when you moved to this country. You could have at least thrown in something about the importance of the 3d amendment.

Your argument against that proposition seems to be a plea to go to some country without jury trials, and without even a general right to practice religions freely. You also seem to relish the idea of executing people for all sorts of crimes without even the faintest idea of what evidence was used to condemn them.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 14, 2008 2:09:57 PM

"I did time in narcissistic Joe's jail and all I got was this stinkin' T-shirt."

Posted by: George | Apr 14, 2008 6:24:03 PM

More silliness designed to get press for Arpaio and - voila - it worked perfectly. Arpaio himself knows that wearing some t-shirt won't have any more effect on breaking the truly horrific hold of meth addiction than sprinkling fairy dust. An ugly, cynical, grab for headlines, and nothing more.

Posted by: The_Realist | Apr 14, 2008 7:43:18 PM

Will we ever be able to connect the trappings of "shaming" (the drug offense t-shirts referenced here) to the trappings of "safety and prevention?" (sex offender restrictions)? It seems so simple. Can the courts really defer to "legislative (or whomever's) intent" to differentiate the legitimacy of the outcome when the actual sanction/provision is the same?

Here we have a t-shirt -- a mark of your prior conviction -- with the stated goal of discouraging "young people from using drugs." Or if you prefer, the judge who required a convicted shoplifter to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with "I stole from Wal-Mart" and march in front of the store. In other words, the purpose of this mark is to either dissuade OTHERS from the same sort of conduct, or to shame the offender for the conduct already committed. It has nothing to do with asuring the safety of others from those marked.

Now, all the provisions requiring marking, tracking, and otherwise identifying sex offenders are couched in terms of being required for the "safety" of others from the actions of the marked one.

Either way, it is a mark. How, when there are property rights and ex post facto issues clearly involved in the latter, do the courts continue to cater to the lip service of the pure "safety of others" argument when clearly there are many other reasons for said "marking?" I suppose the courts are just comfortable with taking the legislators' word for it.

But didn't that whole "legislative intent" thing eventually give way when things like literacy tests and poll taxes were finally struck down?

Posted by: slim | Apr 15, 2008 11:09:10 PM

Bumper stickers are cheap and easily slapped on walls, stop signs or other public places. The inmates and their families can get even. "Sheriff Joe Regularly Has Intercourse With Dead Dogs!" This guy is asking for it.

Posted by: M.P.B. | Apr 17, 2008 2:21:01 AM

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