Source: (2000) Justice System Journal 21(3): 301-322

The shame debate is occurring largely in law reviews, and shaming is being used by an apparently growing number of judges across the country. These shame penalties can be divided into two categories: public exposure penalties and debasement penalties. Public exposure penalties can include a bumper sticker that labels drunk driving offenders, a sign in front of an offender's home, advertisements in newspapers, and the wearing of a T-shirt that labels the offender. Debasement penalties are designed to lower the status of the offender in the community through humiliation. This can include the performing of menial and degrading tasks. Labeling theory posits that a person's sense of self and behavior that stems from self-concept are directly related to the labels and perceptions imposed on the individual in societal and institutional interactions. This article concludes, based on labeling theory, that judicial shame penalties are problematic, in that they may isolate the offender and drive the offender toward alienated and delinquent-prone peer groups. Reintegrative shaming, on the other hand, such as is found in restorative justice programs, are more promising. Such shaming requires that offenders perform positive tasks that show the community they are committed to positive behavior that makes them worthy to be restored into the community. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org