Another case is using the court system for entertaining justice. Evelyn Border, 55 and her daughter, Tina Griekspoor, in Bedford, Pa. have been sentenced to sit outside a courthouse with a sign saying that they stole a gift card from a 9-year-old girl on her birthday. I have previously opposed the use of such humiliation and public scorn punishments, here. It is trend of judges who are freelancing with their own forms of humiliating justice for citizens — an erosion of professionalism and continuity in our legal system.
Border and her daughter had to stand outside the courthouse for 4 1/2 hours with signs reading “I stole from a 9-year-old girl on her birthday! Don’t steal or this could happen to you!” They swiped the card when the girl put the card on a shelf while a Walmart employee helped her.
For pictures of the punishment, click here
Due to their humiliation, Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins says he is willing to ask for probation instead of jail. What is particularly disturbing is that this appears to be Higgins’ own initiative rather than the court’s. He is forcing citizens to commit acts of humiliation to his liking or face have harsh sentence demands. Since this type of circus-like punishment is popular with the public, other prosecutors may follow suit and seek their own forms of justice. Higgins may need the distraction given his own controversial record, here. I wonder whether he would support public signs for accused adulterers or having sex in the courthouse.
The girl’s mother is going to bring the girl to watch the public humiliation to teach her about justice, she told the media. However, this has little to do with justice in our system. It teaches this little girl that inflicting humiliation is part of society’s plan and social justice. That is a poor lesson for both justice and children.