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December 8, 2006

Another shame(ful?) sentencing example

A helpful reader pointed me to another story about another shaming sentence.  Perhaps because I am drawn to shaming as an alternative to incarceration in the right cases, I read this AP story from Albany, Georgia as another example of the positive possibilities of sensible shame sentences:

A young woman sentenced to walk a downtown sidewalk wearing a sandwich board announcing her crime as a condition of her probation for burglary said the experience was humbling and humiliating, but definitely better than serving jail time.

"I understand the judge's reasoning,'' said Breanna Klewitz, 23, of her two-hour walk on a sidewalk in front of the Dougherty County Courthouse, wearing signs that read, "I AM A THIEF'' and "I STOLE WHAT YOU WORKED FOR.''  "If you do something wrong, you have to accept some responsibility,'' she said. "Sitting in a jail cell does provide anonymity.  I wish the world didn't have to know me by face and by name.  But I understand his reasoning."...

Chief Superior Court Judge Loren Gray sentenced Klewitz to five-years probation as a first offender for her role in a June burglary at a local fast-food restaurant, where she worked as an assistant manager....

Klewitz said she was amazed at the words of encouragement from passers-by during her two-hour walk on Wednesday. "They said, 'Hang in there,' 'We're praying for you,''' she said. "The only thing I could think of is, rather this than jail. It's definitely made me a better judge of character and who I hang out with.''

Gray said he wants people who steal to know that their crimes will be exposed. Sending defendants like Klewitz to jail for the weekend, allows them to escape public scrutiny and is a burden on taxpayers, he said.

Some recent posts on shaming sentences:

December 8, 2006 at 12:27 AM | Permalink


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An uplifting story that shows promise. Her "The only thing I could think of is, rather this than jail" could speak more to the culture of jail than to the redemption potential of shaming, however, after all...

The fact that many sex offenders might choose the surgical removal of the testes simply to avoid prison-and presumably not because they truly wanted to be rehabilitated- was a deeply disturbing prospect to researchers on the both sides of the Atlantic.

It appears some would rather suffer mayhem than serve prison time.

There is a strong possibility that if her shaming punishment is effective, it would be because of the community response, 'Hang in there,' 'We're praying for you.' Such encouragement would likely lead her to reflection and concern over what the community thinks as opposed to her resenting punishment through impersonal jail time, thereby resulting in further withdrawal from social norms. In short, because there appears to be some supportive interaction with her and the community, the consequence could be social growth rather than further antisocial withdrawal.

It is also interesting from a community perspective. If the same people read in the paper that she got 30 days in jail, what would they say? Likely a shrug of indifference if they didn't know her. Just another statistic.

Posted by: George | Dec 8, 2006 11:31:55 AM

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