Putnam County, Fl., Judge Peter Miller has sentenced more than 600 people to carry signs at the courthouse or outside victimized stores over the past dozen years, part of his standard punishment for shoplifting, reports the Associated Press. He is one of several judges around the U.S. who believe unusual sentences, usually some form of public penitence, work. The company that runs Putnam County’s probation system says that only three of Miller’s sign carriers have repeated their offense. The judge gives the thieves a choice of a 30- or 60-day jail sentence or two hours of humiliation. They must pay a $294 fine, perform 25 hours of community service, and complete six months’ probation.
Some other examples of creative sentencing: Teens who yelled “Pigs” at police officers in Painesville, Ohio, were forced by Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti to stand on a street corner with a pig and a sign reading, “This is not a police officer.” Judge Larry Standley in Harris County, Tx., ordered a man who had slapped his wife to take yoga classes to help him lessen his anger. A San Francisco judge sentenced a man convicted of mail fraud to stand outside a post office with a sign that read: “I stole mail. This is my punishment.” Law Prof. William Dunlap of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, says such sentences, “don’t amount to cruel and unusual punishment. They are unusual, but most of them as not as cruel as sending someone to jail or prison.”