10 weird criminal sentences

You do the crime, you do the time. But walk into the courtroom of a creative judge and you could find the punishment fits the crime more closely than you imagined. From holding up shaming signs, to spending the day with a donkey, sometimes paying your debt to society doesn't require jail time; just public humiliation.

Check out these 10 court cases where judges have done more than sentence the guilty to a fine or jail time.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
The Lady Justice statue outside the United States Supreme Court building just across from the Capitol in Washington.

Woman ordered to hold 'idiot' sign

Tony Dejak/AP
Shena Hardin holds up a sign to serve a highly public sentence Nov. 14, in Cleveland for driving on a sidewalk to avoid a Cleveland school bus. Cleveland municipal judge Pinkey Carr ordered Hardin to serve the unusal sentence for one hour two days in a row.

In November 2012, Shena Hardin, 32, was ordered to hold up an embarrassing sign on a Cleveland, Ohio corner. Municipal Judge Pinkey Carr ordered Hardin to two days of standing on a corner during rush hour traffic, holding a sign that said, "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."

Hardin pleaded guilty to failing to stop for a school bus while children were getting off. Hardin's license was also suspended for 30 days and she was ordered to pay $250 in court costs. Judge Carr said she hoped the unusual sentence would remind other drivers to have patience for the school bus.

Public shaming has a long history as a form of punishment in both Europe and the United States. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne depicted the role shame played in Puritan New England society in "The Scarlet Letter," writing, "...There can be no outrage, methinks, against our common nature – whatever be the delinquencies of the individual – no outrage more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame.”

Across the country, some judges have begun taking a cue from the Puritans, sentencing convicts to display their crimes publicly in humiliating ways. While individual judges have received support for the idea, whether shaming is effective at deterring repeat offenses remains to be seen.

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