The Punishment Of Our Modern Society

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The punishment of criminals in our modern society is most commonly achieved via jail time, fines, and community service, however, recently some judges are putting into practice the more archaic and controversial punishment of public shaming. The history of public humiliation is long, but it most notably played a large role in puritan New England where criminals were routinely sentenced to be dramatically humiliated by the public as retribution for their crimes. Following the revolutionary war it steadily became less common as our society began favoring other forms of punishment until the 1990s when support for the practice rose again (Reutter). What proponents of court issued shame based punishment may not realize or fully understand is…show more content…
For instance who will get to decide what is and isn’t ‘too far’ when there are no guidelines for these sentences? One example of this is Texas Justice Gustavo Garza who allowed parents of children convicted of minor crimes the option to spank their child in open court as an alternative to paying a fine in over 500 cases (Reutter). Since then he has been admonished by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2009 which concluded that the judge had, “subjected the students and their parents to public embarrassment [and] humiliation” (Wolf) and had a suit filed against him by a parent who took the deal in 2007 in addition to many people denouncing his practice. This case highlights the lack of ability to regulate cases of public shaming as the judge was allowed to continue the practice even after it had been denounced by many. Because cases involving public shaming are difficult to assess the fairness of they often allow judges to punish offenders in unfair and unequal ways, ways that many people would argue ‘go too far’. Greg Beato, editor of Reason magazine writes that, “Equal application of the law is a crucial element of our judicial system. It’s one of the reasons we have sentencing guidelines” (Reutter), and these guidelines do not regulate shame based
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