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Shaming Offenders Essay

874 words - 3 pages

Shaming Offenders


The shaming of offenders has been in existence since the late 18th century. It was a form of corrections that was used to serve justice by offenders who had committed criminal acts. Offenders who had committed crimes against person or property were likely to be handed a sentence of shaming. In lieu of serving a sentence in a cell or incapacitated place, an offender could be sentenced to some degree of public punishment that would attempt to reform the offender and help him see the error of his ways. Popular methods of late 18th century shaming included "the whipping post, the pillory, stocks, branding, banishment, the dunking stool, and the use of the brank." All of these devices were used to demonstrate public shaming of the offender. Common reasons that would incorporate the use of shaming would be "blasphemy, adultery, failure to observe the Sabbath, and a general laziness." All of these punishments were used to help re-instill popular religious beliefs and bring back the good of a person into society. Lo and behold, shaming must have some positive attributes to it because it still exists in the present day. Instead of judges issuing jail/prison sentences, many offenders will receive some form of probation. Of course, this all depends on the seriousness of the crime. Judges tend to use probation on offenders in hopes of bringing them full circle from being a criminal to an integral part of society. Plus, a judge has more discretion in the use of probation as a form of corrections than with incarceration. Just as in any form of corrections, there exists four main goals that are to be achieved in some way, shape, or form. In order for the offender to feel the intended outcomes of shaming, he must experience one of the following effects. Shaming serves the purpose of achieving the goals of "deterrence, rehabilitation, restitution, and protection of the public." Albeit, not all of the goals may be achieved at once. But an offender must feel some effect from the shaming process in order for it to be functional. According to Douglas Litowitz and his article "Shaming Offenders", any for of public humiliation serves all four goals of corrections consecutively. The rehabilitation process is met by the admission of the offender's guilt. Restitution is achieved by having the offender publicly apologize for the wrong doings that have been committed against the general public. The goal of deterrence is met by the humiliation of the shameful act that must be performed by the...

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