Thursday, April 8, 2010

Publicising offence details - is shaming effective?

Today’s photograph (which you can click on to enlarge), taken by Sweetheart Vivienne, is from last Tuesday’s Examiner (i.e. Launceston’s daily newspaper). It publicises details of 11 people who each received a fine and a license disqualification for driving with a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] over the 0.05% legal maximum. Unsurprisingly all 11 are male. Surprisingly only three are aged under 30 years and six over 40 years. Their BACs range from 0.052-0.215, with four BACs over twice the legal limit. The fines range from A$200-2,500. And the disqualification periods range from 3-30 months. Clearly this group comprises serious traffic offenders who were a serious hazard to the local road using public. I don’t normally read the Examiner, and I’ve never before seen a similar item. I assume its main aim’s is to cause the offenders shame by making the details of their offences public. My dictionary defines ‘shame’ as ‘a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt’ and ‘a state of dishonour’. I’ve no idea if publicising details of the BAC offences and penalties causes the offenders shame; or not. (For all I know they may view it as a badge of honour.) But more importantly it needs to be established whether or not it reduces BAC offence recidivism. It’s a fascinating question. For an enterprising graduate student there’s at least a research paper in it. And maybe even a thesis. Oh what fun.

No comments: