What Goes Around Comes Around
Most of us learn from a young age that stealing is an absolute no-no, but some of us have to learn that lesson later in life– the hard way.
Florida Judge Peter T. Miller speaks from experience about stealing. When he was a boy, he shoplifted a piece of gum, and when his father found out, he paid a fair price. First, Miller had to walk back to the store, return the gum, and publicly apologize. Then, his father gave him a good spanking.
Sixty years later, the judge is serving local shoplifters in Putnam County a taste of that humble pie he knows so well. Instead of jail time, Miller and some courts have begun opting for more unique punishments, but some are questioning whether the sentences are moral or not.
Now, local shoplifters are being forced to hold up signs admitting to their crime right in front of the very stores they stole from. The punishment, however, is only for first-time offenders.
“You try to make them realize that what they’re doing is wrong,” he says. “I hope to embarrass them enough that they won’t do it anymore.”
Personally, I think this type of sentence sounds both reasonable and very human– old fashioned, even. There is something very humble and humane about accepting your wrongdoing by going back to the source to ask for forgiveness, plus a little standard embarrassment to stop you from trying anything similar in the future. Miller has said that he hasn’t seen many second-time shoplifters back in his courtroom. Other judges across the country have carried out similar alternative sentences as well.
The judge has been issuing this sentence for over ten years, and while hundreds of shoplifters have done their time holding up signs saying “I Stole From This Store,” other people are questioning if this is fair treatment.
I see this side of the matter too. Both the shoplifters and the storeowners themselves have complained about the negative attention they have received while holding up their signs. Repenting shoplifters have been ridiculed by passersby, and some stores have felt an impact on their sales and clientele. In fact, many stores no longer allow the shoplifters to do their time in front of the shops; instead, many of them now do it in front of the courthouse itself.
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