Thanks to a new policy, criminals in a Missouri town are given a choice between two options: spend time in jail or face public humiliation.
Introduced by Judge Richard Skouby, the proposal allows offenders in Belle to stand on a downtown “corner of shame” to avoid prison time, Fox News reports.
They are ordered to carry a sign for two hours describing their crimes in front of neighbors, friends, tourists and anyone else who passes by.
Fines must still be paid, but this form of punishment enables them to avoid a contempt charge.
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Judge Skouby said he implemented the policy to try to cut down the increasing number of offenders who don’t show up to court.
“We're not playing games here. We have a very serious problem here of people not showing up for court and not paying their fines, and I'm trying my best to find a solution to that,” he said, according to KRCG. “I take my orders very seriously, and I was getting tired of people not taking them seriously.”
The new policy has only been tried once so far and is designed for non-threatening offenders who do not turn up for court dates or pay municipal fines on time.
According to Belle City Marshall Joe Turnbough, the town of 1,500 people had some mixed reactions to the policy, but more are now paying their fines right away.
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“Some are for it, some are against it. I'd say there are more people who like it,” he said.
He adds that if a criminal who chooses to stand on the “Corner of Shame” doesn’t show up, he will inform Judge Skouby, who will then issue further orders.
This is not the first time a judge has ordered a person to walk around, holding up an embarrassing sign.
In 2012, Shena Hardin, 32, was forced to stand on a Cleveland corner for two days during rush hour and hold a sign that read “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus” after she pleaded guilty to failing to stop for a school bus, The Plain Dealer reports.