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By Amy Feldman

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A man who had been sentenced by an Ohio Judge to carry a sign apologizing for being an idiot after he called 911 and threatened to kill police officers was sentenced to 90 days in jail because he didn’t show up to carry the sign.

Public shaming as a punishment in lieu of jail time has many proponents both because of the money it saves in jail time and the humiliation it inflicts on the wrongdoer. But is it really legal? Or legally enforceable? The answer is generally yes.

It can involve inclusion of the person’s name on a sex offender registry, online publication of mug shots, or more colorful and imaginative punishments like making a defendant who drove her SUV carry a sign saying “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”

A California Appeals Court upheld the shaming of a mail thief who had to wear a sandwich board reading “I stole mail. This is my punishment” because it said the punishment was meant to prevent him from doing it again – although the court said it would not be acceptable if shaming was for the purpose of humiliation only.

And don’t you be an idiot – only judges can impose these sentences. People who have shamed coworkers whom they believed acted badly have themselves been fired for it – a true shame.

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