CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

CrimProf Dan Mark Comments on

Markel From is a Web site that provides the names, mug shots and blood-alcohol content of people convicted of felony and misdemeanor drunken driving in the Valley.

It is the modern equivalent of a Puritan stockade, where the guilty are exposed and the rest of society is reminded of what can happen when you break the law.

The anti-drunken-driving campaign is the work of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Some are opposed to this type of campaign, but Thomas believes that because DUI is a crime routinely committed by otherwise law-abiding citizens, the fear of shame could prevent people from getting behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink.

Florida State University College of Law CrimProf Dan Markel thinks the tactic reflects poorly on society.

"The very goal of shaming," Markel wrote in the New Republic, "is the dehumanization of another person before, and with the participation of, the public. Before we permit democratic institutions to subject an offender to ridicule, scorn and humiliation, we have to ask whether this kind of punishment comports with evolving standards of decency and the dignity of humankind. The answer is clearly no."

In an interview, Markel also questioned whether the campaign will make a person less likely to drive drunk.

"The problem is that when people drink, they are probably not in the mode of thinking about what the possible punishment is," Markel said. "And if they did, then they probably wouldn't be driving."

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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