Rethinking "Condemn the Crime, Not the Person"
In her essay “Condemn the Crime, Not the Person,” June Tangney focuses on alternatives to traditional sentences instead of incarceration. As a more recent trend, officials are issuing “shaming” sentences. Tangney argues that there is an important distinction between shame and guilt. She states that feelings of shame involve a painful focus on the self – the humiliating sense that “I am a bad person,” and that guilt focuses on a specific behavior – the sense that “I did a bad thing.” (570-571) But Tangney’s argument is very one sided and unconvincing. Her essay suggests that all lesser crimes should all be handled with guilt punishments. I believe, however, that if guilt sentences were to be considered then each should be taken on a case-by-case and crime specific basis. The idea that every individual’s behavioral patterns are the same is preposterous and wrong; each individual should be charged and sentenced on individually.
Tangney’s explanation of sentences addresses the concept of lesser-crime criminals serve a great deal of community service. Some would agree that community service just isn’t punishment enough to keep an individual from repeating the same crime again, or even perusing a more heinous crime. Some might feel as though it is a slight embarrassment, but everyone will forget about it with some time and it’s not nearly as damaging as doing time in a correctional institute. Also some individuals might prosper more from shame than guilt sentences because that is what they know and how they feel most affected. Again, the sentencing for the crime should be a case-by-case sentencing because of the diverse behavioral patterns in people, which can cause very different outcomes based on the details of their mandated punishment.
Tangney mentions that critics of her proposed solutions to crowded jails and ineffective sentencing have rejected community service alternatives,...