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Steve
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Life & Events > The Pillory
 

The Pillory


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Criminal justice changes through the ages.  Some people believe that present day
punishment is insufficient, that offenders get off too easy.  Some even favor the return of poena pilloralis (pee-neh  pil-eh-ray-lis), which is punishment by use of
the pillory, a wooden framework with holes through which an offender’s head and
hands are placed, usually in a forced standing position.  Typically, this was a public shaming, giving
other citizens an opportunity to stand around pointing and making fun of the
poor wretch’s humiliation. 


Under ecclesiastic law, there was something called a
finger pillory, a rather bizarre instrument that was a miniature stock used to
confine the fingers of a person who misbehaved during church services.  I would imagine it could have been aptly
utilized on nasty little brats who picked their noses while the prelate
pontificated, or played with themselves under their hymnals. 


We don’t see much public shaming of miscreants
anymore.  The so-called “perp walk” is
one, usually where high profile defendants are marched in cuffs from a jail to
a waiting vehicle for transport, all in front of media cameras. 


Not too long ago they had road gangs, as depicted in
the film “Cool Hand Luke” with Paul Newman, where prisoners wearing jail
stripes were forced to work along rural roadways clearing brush, but they weren’t
seen by many. 


Punishment these days cannot be what would be deemed
“cruel & unusual” and I suspect there would be ACLU lawyers jumping up and
down at the prospect of a town pillory in the public square.  Civilization advances and punishment decreases.  I suppose a good slap on the wrist could
sting, but not for too long. 



posted on Apr 5, 2013 10:02 AM ()

Comments:

The perp walk is less public shaming and more of a PR thing so the authorities get to show off that they arrested someone. Sorry, Steve I get upset with some of these posts about the justice system. We don't need pillories or other antiquated methods brought back in order to be sufficiently cruel to wrongdoers; we're doing a really great job of that already. The first step of our cruelty is that we allow corporations to handle the health care, the phone system, and the daily operation of many prisons. Then we set things up so the prisoner is isolated from family and friends, and unseen by the public.
comment by drmaus on Apr 6, 2013 11:20 AM ()
I think punishment should be harsher for some crimes, but yeah, the ACLU. I guess they are good and bad...
comment by kristilyn3 on Apr 6, 2013 11:08 AM ()
sorry,this was way before my time.I thought that you were talking about pillow.what do I know.Fredo made a funy.
comment by fredo on Apr 6, 2013 6:59 AM ()
I don't know why we have to be so careful of the dignity of criminals, but that's the way it is.
comment by troutbend on Apr 5, 2013 5:37 PM ()
No dunking of witches for me and no Red letter A like the one Hester
Pryne had to wear. The stocks and pillory look decidedly uncomfortable.
I would be right there on the side of the ACLU although I don't agree with
some of the things they protest about.
comment by elderjane on Apr 5, 2013 4:39 PM ()
I say go back to the days when a red letter"A" was marked on the forehead of woman who committed adultery. Don't know if men were marked. We have prisoners who are "trustees" cleaning the roads in these parts. They wear orange marked jackets. No chains, though. When I was part of a road-cleaning volunteer effort a few years ago, I wanted an orange jacket but they wouldn't give me one.
comment by tealstar on Apr 5, 2013 1:34 PM ()
How about marking the foreheads of congressmen with a capital (capitol!!) I for Idiot?
reply by steeve on Apr 6, 2013 7:32 AM ()

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