Source: (1998) Crime & Delinquency 44 (April): 277-294.

In this essay, David Karp scrutinizes the use of shame penalties as an alternative to incarceration in the American criminal justice system. The object of shame penalties is to communicate that offending behavior violates not only a legal standard but also the moral order. Karp sees shame penalties as being designed to satisfy a retributive impulse, with the power of the sanction consisting in the threat of social exclusion. This leads to classification of three types of shame penalties: public exposure penalties; debasement penalties; and apology penalties. Karp then analyzes three critiques of the judicial use of shame penalties: the risk of counterproductive stigmatization and exclusion; a tendency to overlook or discount the circumstances in which the offending took place; and the argument that shaming is insufficiently respectful of individual dignity and a violation of legally protected individual rights.