Thieves who stole from child get a public shaming

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50 Responses to “Thieves who stole from child get a public shaming”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The other thing that can happen with public embarrassment is that it becomes almost a badge of honour for some criminals. I’ve seen it work that way in schools with bad pupils.

  2. obdan says:

    I think that this works.
    This is transparency
    I have no idea what is going on inside of a jail or in a prison, they lurk.
    This however, I can see, and it affects me
    I will not steal from a nine year old, AND, I will have empathy for this poor soul that did

  3. Keith says:

    On the other hand, it feels utterly backwards. Like bringing back the stocks or something.

    Notice she’s sitting comfortably on a bench and wearing a coat, not bent over and shackled, stripped to her skivvies with rotten veggies drying on her face.

    Shame is a powerful tool. Since our only other one seems to be incarceration for petty crimes, this is an improvement.

    • mgfarrelly says:

      To be fair, I didn’t say that A=B, only that this kind of public shaming, like the stocks, is a backwards move.

      I tend not to see crime as a “how can we best punish this person” as much as “what caused this”. If you read the story one of the women has a husband out of work and is sole support for her family. Does that excuse her? Of course not.

      I think the self-satisfaction many people seem to derive from humiliating petty criminals is pretty ugly. Cheering on someone’s poverty, ignorance or lack of social access (the root causes of crime) speaks ill of one’s character.

      The pink-jumpsuited criminals are under the Maricopa county Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He’s something of a right-wing thug whose tactics of humiliation haven’t reduced recidivism and recently had policing powers removed from his deputies by the Department of Homeland Security over abuses regarding illegal immigration.

      When we start getting serious about educational reform, creating a viable social safety net and addressing the root causes of crime that’s progress. Humiliating the foolish? Not so much.

  4. pinehead says:

    I understand from the article that the women aren’t in sound financial shape right now, which likely motivated their behavior. I’m not exactly in great shape these days, either. But if you’re in good enough shape that you can go out shopping for what you need, then you’re in good enough shape that you shouldn’t be greedy and selfish, trying to hurt other people along the way. I hope those women gained some ethics from all this.

  5. sk8rboi69 says:

    I’m not a big fan of this. Community service has its problems but seems to me to be a little more productive than simply shaming the perps.

    There is a fairly large difference between the lady in the chair with a sign and being locked in the stocks. My understanding was always that being locked in the stocks could very well be a death sentence. You’d be locked in a stress position for a few hours to a few days and the public could do whatever they felt to you.

  6. TokenFrenchDude says:

    “…would do a lot more to deter the sort of petty crime that the punishment befits.”

    The only this that deter crimes is that punished happens as often as possible (think automated radars on the road).

    A spectacular punishment once in a while won’t do much.

    I like that they were given a choice here. Mandatory “shaming” would be, I think, a bad thing.

  7. Inkstain says:

    I’ll just leave this here…

    http://www.debunking911.com/pull.htm

    And probably more relevantly, this:

    http://xkcd.com/258/

  8. Anonymous says:

    So wait, you are saying that if you found gift cards with some random person’s name on them, you would find that person and make sure they got their gift cards? Even if they had no phone # on them? And if you found a $20 bill in the street, you’d definitely track that person down too? Because if you didn’t, you’d obviously be a bad person and it’d be good for you to be humiliated.

    Sad the girl lost her Walmart cards. More sad that these poor old ladies probably have miserable lives. Sadder still that the owners of Walmart don’t have to sit on chairs in the middle of towns they ruined with signs that say, “hey, we effed up your town, forever!”

    I think getting excited about humiliating pathetic old white trash ladies is maybe on par with the coliseum but call me crazy.

  9. rollerskater says:

    how about don’t steal because it’s mean to the victim? anyways, back to downloading off of blogspot posts…

  10. Anonymous says:

    How many times does it have to be said? YOU CAN NOT DETER CRIMINALS! (ok, you could use LSD and a near death experience ala RAW and his contemporaries to reprogram their neuro pathways but the Gov. won’t let you.

  11. jfrancis says:

    Maybe I should try that in LA.

    I wrote a screenplay that didn’t sell! Don’t write screenplays, or this could happen to you!

    meh. probably wouldn’t help.

  12. Aloisius says:

    I for one welcome shame as a deterrent. They may not be the majority, but there are criminals who sometimes do it to become infamous or because the criminal life has been glamorized. Nothing like a little public humiliation to make something not feel so cool.

    That said, pink uniforms? That is a stroke of brilliance, but I feel like they really need pink kilts.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure this is fun for the public but it serves little purpose. People steal and commit low level crimes for any number of reasons and shaming them for a day isn’t necessarily going to change their lives or give them a more positive attitude towards society.

    However, being someone who once did my fair share of community service, I can tell you I did learn a lesson from picking up trash by the roadside, wandering the neighborhoods of my city and seeing just what people throw away. Or worse, clearing out abandoned homeless camps riddled with human waste, drug paraphernalia, etc. Or spending an entire day working outside clearing a hillside of underbrush and debris.

    The public profits from this, because menial tasks are done for a small price rather than paying for pointless and expensive incarceration. The perp actually does something meaningful and productive for society and gets some exercise. And in some cases, some of us truly learn a lesson.

  14. sarajayde says:

    Once the child misplaced the gift card it was essentially cash laying around. No this wasn’t their cash/cards, but even if they had turned it in there was no assurance the cards would have gone to their rightful owners and then Walmart would have slowly gotten the money back by devaluing the the card via fees. It is not Walmart policy to find the rightful owners so how is it the shoppers’ responsibility. Yes they spent money that wasn’t theirs, and I’d like to believe that as a society we believe in more than a “finders keepers” form of justice, but this is not stealing.

  15. tony says:

    Being seen as a criminal in the eyes of your friends, family, & coworkers is the only thing that keeps you from stealing a car or pushing someone in front of a bus. People don’t have an intrinsic sense of morality. Right and wrong aren’t hard-coded. The only thing that humans understand on a primate level is social ostracism. We’re social creatures, and that’s how we’re wired. All forms of social justice are, in reality, based on public humiliation. Most people resist committing crimes, not because it’s wrong to do so, but because they fear embarrassment among their peers. This is simply a more direct form of that.

    • 2k says:

      oops.
      Lizard brain wants to eat your face.
      Human mind is full of compassion.
      Anonymous douche devalues grace,
      and turns into another phantom.

      The only thing keeping me from killing people at random is that I don’t want to .Seemingly, the only thing keeping you from a rape and murder spree is that you….

      aw! shucks and gee-willikers. you got me again!

  16. Kyle Armbruster says:

    Did anyone read TFA?

    These people found cards in Wal-Mart and used them. The cards had some female’s name on them. They knew that the cards did not belong to them, and that someone had misplaced them, but it’s not like they went up to a 9-year-old kid and said, “Happy birthday, bitch, now hand the cards over. And we’ll be taking your milk money, too.”

    This is totally ridiculous. Poor people acting in their own self-interest when they see what is, as someone else pointed out, essentially cash lying around? To the stocks with them!

    BTW, a big part of the the “stocks” experience was being raped through the night without being able to tell who was behind you, unless you could get friends or family to stand guard. Chuck Palahnuick said it, so it must be true. But in this case, I believe him.

  17. Glossolalia Black says:

    I once called the cops on a guy who stole a dollar out of a two year old little girl’s hand at a bus stop here in Minneapolis. The guy who did it was a known problematic alcoholic who had run-ins with the law before, and some congenital difficulties. I think I would not have liked it were he humiliated. Instead, I found out he was taken into treatment and sent Up North. That’s the proper way to treat people with problems.

    These people have a problem, but I don’t think doing this to them would help.

  18. Joe says:

    If only we could impose this kind of punishment on corporate executives. Instead, when they mess up, they have to be paid millions of dollars to go away, and we pretend that a corporation, rather than its officers, has committed the crime.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yes, let us cast away the actual code of law in society and all do what feels right. Why not chain up criminals into lamp posts and beat them with sticks. Justice accomplished as long as the criminal is okay with it, right? I’m sure that most criminals would agree with a good beating as long as they would not get juridically prosecuted. This is like the middleages all over again. But perhaps suitable for a country that has ass backwards institutions as life-time appointed supreme court.

  20. failix says:

    This is against human dignity. On the other hand prison isn’t really better or is it?…

  21. apoxia says:

    What stands out for me: “I admit we did make a mistake,”

    This was not a mistake. That is minimisation. I saw it a lot when working with sex offenders. Would you let a child rapist get away with the statement “I admit I made a mistake,”? I wouldn’t. This kind of crime isn’t a mistake. She thinks she made a mistake because she got caught.

  22. cwahlers says:

    Is it just me who finds the choice of that sign’s font.. ehrm.. suspicious?

    • semiotix says:

      Is it just me who finds the choice of that sign’s font.. ehrm.. suspicious?

      Yes, the court’s original sentence called for the sign to be in Comic Sans, but that was overturned as cruel and unusual punishment.

  23. Anonymous says:

    It’s amazing what people will do when they are desperate and poor. Best we shame them and keep them in their place. Tip tip, cheerio.

  24. stratosfyr says:

    Years of research in behaviorism has shown that punishment works when it’s swift, proportionate to the crime, and brief. Otherwise it doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work well.

    a) Too slow, and it doesn’t create a mental association of crime –> punishment. You can’t teach a 2 year old to not throw things by yelling at them an hour after they did it, and you can’t teach an adult to not steal by sentencing them a year after they did it.

    b) Disproportionate, and it’s either too weak to create an impression, or too nasty for the person to feel like they “earned” it by the deed (they will simply feel persecuted).

    c) Not brief enough, and it wastes resources, has various unintended long-term costs (eg. lost wages/productivity, lost opportunities), feels more severe, and the association with the original crime diminishes by the time the sentence ends (see a).

    The exception to that is when you really just want to keep someone out of trouble, or off the streets. Swift and proportionate still apply, but brevity is another story. (At that point you worry about proportionate security or monitoring.)

    That said, finders keepers. Geez.

  25. someguyyouvenevermet says:

    I just read the article that is linked to and it turns out they found two gift cards in the store and tried to spend them. They had no idea they were lost by a nine year old or that it was the child’s birthday. A more accurate sign would say “I tried to spend two gift cards I found in Wal Mart”.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Two problems with this. One, once judges start getting creative, they sometimes get carried away. Two, “give a dog a bad name and you might as well shoot it.” How does a person maintain any workable self-image after this kind of punishment? Either the person is going to have to start thinking of him- or herself as a thief and making that a matter of pride, or the person is going to have to start viewing society as an enemy that has treated him or her cruelly and unfairly. This is just human nature, but it is not how one gets a person who is unlikely to reoffend.

  27. Neon Tooth says:

    +1 mgfarerelly

    I think the self-satisfaction many people seem to derive from humiliating petty criminals is pretty ugly. Cheering on someone’s poverty, ignorance or lack of social access (the root causes of crime) speaks ill of one’s character.

  28. benher says:

    So… We can expect to see Walmart executiveson the same street during the same times next week for the crimes they’ve committed in Bedford County, PA.

    Give me a break, it’s a slow day.

  29. ratcity says:

    Wait…. so stealing is due to poverty, ignorance, or lack of social access but a desire to humiliate comes from lack of character? I’m hurt that you pooped out before coming up with an excuse for me.

    • mgfarrelly says:

      Excuses excuse people, and that’s not what I was saying. Too often people want to say “Oh, that’s just an excuse!” when really it’s evidence of deeper issues. Your character is individual, I’m in no position to judge.

      A few years ago a program started in Chicago called “Ceasefire”. The focus has been on intervention and treating crime prevention as a public health issue rather than simply relying on law enforcement after the deeds have been done. The results were impressive.

      According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s study of CeaseFire in 2008, it is a success. Five out of the seven areas where the CeaseFire program operates in Chicago reported a sharp decrease in gun violence. Shootings and killings dropped 40 percent in crime hot spots. Retaliatory murders dropped 100 percent.

      And those sensational violent crimes you’ve likely seen and heard about in Chicago of late? They came after “Ceasefire” had it’s funding cut, in the very neighborhoods that saw such amazing turnaround.

      I think crime is a symptom of deeper social ills. I look at this woman in the story as someone so bankrupt, morally/economically, that she stole from a child. Seeing her punished, humiliated and shamed doesn’t benefit society, it gives neither me, nor her victim, any peace of mind. When we stop seeing crime as a matter of simple punishment and start addressing why people are willing to risk punishment, violence and even their lives we’re on our way towards being a better society.

      • danlalan says:

        A few years ago a program started in Chicago called “Ceasefire”. The focus has been on intervention and treating crime prevention as a public health issue rather than simply relying on law enforcement after the deeds have been done.

        I love to see stuff like this. I have serious problems with how our criminal “justice system” currently operates. Using incarceration as a one size fits all cure has given the U.S. the highest per capita prison population in the world. Land of the free indeed. As I doubt that Americans are more criminally inclined than anyone else, the problem must lie elsewhere.

        While I’m unconvinced that this kind of “shaming” produces the desired effect, it’s a lot cheaper for the public than jail, so I have no problem with this as an optional punishment. That said, I have to wonder if there isn’t a more effective way to address crime systemically than the approach we currently take.

  30. peterbruells says:

    Personally, I’m disgusted.

    Not so much at the ruling, because that’s the stuff the American people with their fixation on revenge favors, so it’s not terribly unsurprising and accepted and sanctioned by the population.

    But to take the name and photo and present it to a worldwide blog, to multiply a shaming which was probably intended to work on a communal level, that’s really low. Petty sensationalism befitting the yellow press and in as good a taste as taking those photos in Abu Ghraib..

  31. Jason Couch says:

    No deterrence, just gives street cred. No more 9 year olds stepping to them at Walmart after this.

  32. andygates says:

    @cwahlers, it’s just begging for photoshopping. “I can haz punnishment?”

    Also: Punishment is never brief when there’s immortal images on the intertubes. Village stocks are transient; this person’s image will be passed around for amusement for as long as she’s entertaining. A consequence of the global-village scale of t’internet.

    I still like it. Humiliation is satisfying to my baser instincts; prison is expensive, and so on…

  33. mgfarrelly says:

    Man, that leaves me with a lot of mixed emotions.

    On the one hand, someone who commits a petty crime (obviously this isn’t something you’d use for violent offenders) might be seriously deterred by the threat of public shaming and humiliation.

    On the other hand, it feels utterly backwards. Like bringing back the stocks or something.

    Working in libraries I’ve seen how community service, the catch all for everything from drunk drivers to kids out past curfew can be a real boon. I’ve also seen it be way more trouble than it’s worth, as librarians have to hover over lackadaisical “volunteers”.

    If I was in their thieving shoes, I’d just take the jail time.

    • nexusheli says:

      While I understand your mixed emotions, I have to say I think this is great. I’m not sure why we ever did away with the stocks, it seems like that sort of punishment (cruel as it may be) would do a lot more to deter the sort of petty crime that the punishment befits.

      The whole idea of ‘criminal rights’ makes me cringe…

    • mattharvest says:

      Why would bringing back the stocks be bad?

      Humiliation has a strong deterrent effect for recidivism; just look at the prisons were prisoners have been forced to wear pink uniforms.

      • semiotix says:

        Humiliation has a strong deterrent effect for recidivism; just look at the prisons were prisoners have been forced to wear pink uniforms.

        Yeah, the sheriff who runs the jail is under about ten different kinds of investigations (another new one made the papers this week). Not for the pink uniforms, or the green bologna, or the chain gangs, but because hot-blooded, vengeful humiliation dressed up as “justice” and painted with a thin veneer of righteousness leads to its own problems. Like, the guy with the badge posing for photo-ops with pink-wearing prisoners being corrupt to his eyeballs, ready to arrest anyone and everyone (including civilian oversight) who stands in his way. And then there are the volunteer “posses” of his political supporters that make Big Brother look like Barney Fife.

        It’s not that pink underwear made them stupid and evil and power-mad; it’s that the sheriffs who aren’t stupid and evil and power-mad say to themselves, “you know, we’ve arrested the criminals, we put them in jail–we don’t actually need to piss on them just because we can. Maybe that’s not going to help in the long run.”

        Creative sentencing is one thing, but you really don’t want to look to Maricopa County as your model for law and order. That’s the one place that make the usual anti-cop sentiment on BB look rational.

        • dequeued says:

          About Joe Arpaio: He’s also just plain stupid.
          Have you ever seen an interview with him?
          When asked what he thought about pot legalization, he said something along the lines of: That’s stupid, if it were legal, people would smoke it when they drove or performed surgery.

        • mgfarrelly says:

          Humiliating prisoners as a means of punishment or establishing dominance? Sounds…familiar.

  34. Lady Katey says:

    This is great. Low cost to the public and really drives the message home to both the criminals and the public.

  35. MadMolecule says:

    someguyyouvenevermet: I just read the article that is linked to and it turns out they found two gift cards in the store and tried to spend them. They had no idea they were lost by a nine year old or that it was the child’s birthday.

    You read the article? How did you miss this part (with bolding added)?

    Prosecutors said the two used the cards and told a store clerk that the cards were theirs, though the girl’s name was on them.

    • someguyyouvenevermet says:

      Yes I did read the article. I said “They had no idea they were lost by a nine year old or that it was the child’s birthday”. If they read the name on the vouchers how were they to know it was a child’s name? Or that it was the child’s birthday? Can you tell the difference between a child’s name and an adult’s just by reading it?

      • MadMolecule says:

        You’re right; I was misreading your previous post. Sorry.

        Nonetheless, while the idea of stealing from a child on his/her birthday appalls the conscience, I don’t see how the crime is mitigated by them not knowing those things. They didn’t know who owned those cards, but they had reason to know perfectly well that it wasn’t them.

  36. someguyyouvenevermet says:

    I’m not an American but I have heard of the Eight Ammendment to the American constitution which forbids cruel and unusual punishment. The punishment is unconstitutional. The person who hates the idea of criminals having rights should think about why it might be in your constitution.

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