Condemn the crime, not the perpetrator

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Law ・MLA ・1 Sources

As the cost of incarcerating prisoners rises and the procedure is deemed inefficient in preventing and deterring violence, judges have started to look for alternatives. According to June Tangney's Condemn the Crime, Not the Person, the use of shaming strategies, in which sentences are deliberately intended to instill a sense of guilt in the perpetrator, is on the rise. While bullying and stigmatization have been lauded for being a less expensive and more efficient method of combating nonviolent criminals, Tangney shows that rather than promoting positive progress, shaming tactics often render a bad circumstance worse.

Tangney distinguishes the feeling of shame from the feeling of guilt and that of shame, and how their respective emotions affect subsequent moral and interpersonal behaviour to evidence how shaming judgment strategies aggravates situations they are meant to improve. The feeling of shame creates a sense of being exposed, worthless and powerless. This involves the self-humiliating sense of being a “bad person”, a feeling that does not motivate constructive behaviour change. Instead, the shamed persons become irrationally angry with others or indulge in more destructive behaviours.

In contrast, the feeling of guilty elicits the feeling of remorse or regret, and the sense that “I did bad thing’” rather than “I am a bad person”. According to Tangney, it is easy to change a bad behaviour than to change a bad character, thus people are remorseful that they did something bad are likely to change their behaviour, than people who feel they are bad people. This leads to the conclusion that we should condemn the crime and not the offender, thus making the use of shaming strategy an ineffective strategy to curb and deter non-violent crimes.

Works Cited

Tangney, J. Condemn the Crime, Not the Person. Web. Feb.19, 2017. <>

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