This is definitely a slippery slope. But when I read about Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Pinkey Carr sentencing those found guilty in his courtroom to public shamings I thought to myself: I’d take it. Although I’ve never been sentenced to jail time, I’ve spent more than enough time behind bars (2 days to be exact; college) to know that some time on a corner with a sign is a better option.
There is are definitely some critique of the practices, especially those concerning the safety of those placed on public display after committing crimes that involve other people. Also, understanding that people of color are often disproportionately targeted and policed by law enforcement, this practice could easily become a literal display… of racism. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t perks to this model of criminal justice.
For working class people, who also represent a population that is overrepresented in the United States criminal justice system,being smacked with fines is another way in which they are tied to poverty. For those with families,jail time means time away from their children or other people in their care. Also, if executed in a way that is safe and practical, these public displays of remorse can be a really effective way to reconnect folks with their communities.
Hearing about this reminds me of the potential for radical alternative justice practices, like peace circles. These are transformative practices are ways to deal with community conflicts and other harmful acts in a way that avoids the institutions that do more harm than good.
So what do you think? Does public shaming have the potential to be an alternative to incarceration or is it perhaps a step too far? If you were convicted of a crime, which punishment would you choose?