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. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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