Shamed into change

September 8, 2009
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One judge in Ohio thinks shame is the way to curb crime, so he’s ordering some criminals to wear bright T-shirts stating their crime.

The T-shirts, obnoxiously neon yellowish-green, say things like, “I’m a thief” in big, block letters. The “criminali-tees” must be worn while performing court-ordered community service work.

The judge decided to impose the fashion statement in hopes that shame will deter shoplifters from repeating their crimes. Western District Court Judge Jeff Robinson noticed an uptick in shoplifting cases in the community and thought if those convicted suffered a little bit of humility for their crimes, they wouldn’t steal again.

Another example: “I starved my horses to death.”

Those convicted have to make sure the shirt is visible and must return it in good condition. They aren’t allowed to lend it to someone else to wear as a prank or to a party, according to a release form.

Humiliating? Sure, but these people did commit crimes and proceedings in these kinds of criminal matters are public record. It’s like a modern day “Scarlet Letter;” instead of an “A” for adultery, people will instantaneously known you stole something, hit someone, drove drunk, or other offenses. You bet people will judge those wearing the T-shirts differently than if they were just wearing a bright orange jumpsuit or even regular clothes. It’d be even more shameful to have to wear those shirts for an extended period of time out to work or to the store.

Is shame enough to deter crime? Maybe for some, but those likely to steal again or drive drunk again will do so, regardless of whether they are wearing a loud T-shirt announcing their crime.
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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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