For the past two decades, proposals demanding for the adoption of alternative punishments have received much interest partly because there are presently more than 2 million people in federal and state penitentiaries (Kahan, 2006). Disappointed by the obvious failure of the criminal justice system to trim down offender populations at an acceptable cost, different intellectuals with distinct political objectives have suggested more cost-effective and more efficient techniques to diminish numbers of prisoners and reduce recidivism. Several of these alternative crime control methods are innately stigmatic and do not require imprisonment, like degrading community service, criminal fines, and, most contentiously, shaming sanctions. This paper analyzes and determines the nature and effectiveness of shaming sanctions.
Shaming Sanctions: Does it Work?
Legal scholars have largely focused on alternatives to imprisonment. Even though general alliances support further implementation of alternative punishments as a major issue, heightened academic debate has revolved around the adoption of shaming sanctions. Shaming sanctions are punishments intended to debase and stigmatize a criminal in public while encouraging a certain extent of public involvement in that debasement and stigmatization (Marshall, 2001). Specifically, a shaming punishment “exposes the offender to public view and heap[s] ignominy upon him in a way that other alternative sanctions to imprisonment, like fines and community service, do not” (Markel, 2001, 2155).