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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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