Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Interesting Questions About Shaming and Accountability
I recently returned from a wonderful visit at the IDC in Herzliya, where I taught a mini-course on punishment theory; it was a good opportunity for me to test out some materials from Criminal Law Conversations (which I now highly recommend, by the way). All that is background to a question I just received from a student of mine there who asked, on behalf of her friend, of a possible campaign to hold deadbeats responsible for their delinquency.
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I once prosecuted a defendant under the Federal "Deadbeat Dad" statute, 18 USC 228, which (like any other criminal prosecution) becomes public once charges are filed. In order to become a federal offense, the defendant either has to reside in a different state than the child or travel out of state to avoid the child support obligation (there are several additional elements that relate to the amount of the obligation etc). I seem to recall that the Clinton administration was fairly high on the use of this statute as a way of forcing (and publicly shaming) dads into paying their obligations. You can see DOJ's historical account of federal child support enforcement here: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/child_support.htm.
Posted by: Miriam Baer | Dec 13, 2011 11:28:36 AM
As a practical matter, I'm worried about the characterization of convictions. While I would love a convicted child molester to have his picture up there, what about a guy who was convicted in civil court on a preponderance standard on something minor? Having three "real bad cats" on a page with one guy who missed a hearing seems worrisome.
I'm also worried that the type of woman who will seek out this public shaming is not the type of woman we are worried about protecting. Finally, on a related note, I'm worried about who is running the websites. Is it Catholic Charities? Is it a reputable women's shelter? Is it the court? Or is it Nancy Grace? Or is it a misandronist group?
Posted by: AndyK | Dec 13, 2011 4:37:26 PM
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