It’s embarrassing to be charged with a crime, even without the sentence—it’s embarrassing to be arrested, to have to take time off of work to go to court, and depending on where you live, have your arrest record or photo put online or in the newspaper. But, it’s extra embarrassing when the judge determines he didn’t like your attitude and then sentences you to a particularly humbling duty.
Thirty-two year old Shena Hardin was recently sentenced to that kind of embarrassing thing. She was ordered by Cleveland Municipal Judge Pinkey S. Carr to stand on the street corner with a sign announcing her transgression.
“Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus,” read the sign.
Hardin was accused of passing a school bus multiple times, by riding on the sidewalk. According to witnesses, this was her regular thing, to drive up on the sidewalk to avoid having to stop for the bus or the disabled boy it was picking up.
On the first day of her creative sentence, Hardin stood on the corner texting, smoking, and listening to music. The sign wasn’t visible save for the time that she used it to block the wind while lighting her cigarette. This wasn’t good enough for Judge Carr, so she was ordered to return for two more mornings, holding the sign without texting and smoking.
“She was making a mockery of my court order,” said Carr. “I don’t think I’m asking her too much to hold up that sign for one hour without her smoking or texting.”
Her sentence also included some conventional terms like a license suspension for 30 days and a $250 fine, as is standard with passing a school bus.
Judges do have some leeway when sentencing. Creative sentencing has its critics, though. Many people believe these types of sentences are nothing more than the judge getting kicks—that they serve no real purpose. But others would argue that the humiliation and frustration that Hardin experienced would no doubt prevent her from committing the same transgression again.
Do you think this kind of judicial bullying and shaming is appropriate?