Public shaming recommended for domestic violence convictions

Published: Mar. 13, 2009 at 9:18 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2009 at 10:00 PM EDT
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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dougherty County Grand Jurors say shaming people with public displays of punishment may be the best way to cut down on the number of domestic violence cases.

Grand Jurors are concerned that law enforcement and the courts could be overwhelmed by family violence during tough economic times.

But advocates say they're not sure if public shaming will stop abusers.

Every shift, every day the Albany Police incident report book has six or seven reports of domestic violence calls. District Attorney Greg Edwards says the case load shocked Grand Jurors.

District Attorney Greg Edwards said "They estimated that sixty percent of the cases that involved violence in this particular grand jury calendar involved domestic violence."

Could making offenders march in front of the courthouse with a sign, or having their picture in the newspaper cut down on domestic violence?

In their latest presentment, Dougherty County Grand Jurors recommended "as part of the sentence for all person convicted of acts of domestic violence, some form of shaming in public, including the placement of their photographs in newspapers."

Edwards said "Most abusers it is a secret, hidden situation. I think in some cases it would be an effective tool."

But advocate leaders for The Liberty House, the battered women's shelter in South Georgia, worry that victims of domestic violence may also receive the shaming punishment, because they are also arrested in violence cases.

Liberty House Executive Director Silke Deeley said "If we are going to start shaming people, putting pictures in the paper, we want to make sure that it's the perpetrators of the violence and not the victims."

The Grand Jury also recommended that "a fine be imposed for every police call where there is a viable charge and an arrest made for domestic violence."

Advocates say they don't know if even fines and shaming will stop domestic abusers.

Deeley said "They have to realize what they are doing is wrong. It's criminal, and that they are going to have to seek some help to alter their behaviour. And if that doesn't happen, you can shame them all day long."

Deeley says in South Georgia and nationwide domestic violence cases are increasing with job losses and the faltering economy, the Dougherty Grand Jury thinks shaming could be one way to cut those numbers.

If the Judges take the Grand Jurors recommendation, they would decide in each individual sentencing on fines and shaming.


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