R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Texas drunk driver forced to wear victim's name as punishment

Fairness is the cornerstone of our justice system. Without the guarantee that everyone is treated fairly under the law or the ability to provide a defense against criminal charges, people would be without the legal protection they deserve. Recently, a Texas man has been handed a rather unusual punishment for a drunk driving related charge.

Last summer, the 39-year-old Texas man was arrested for causing a fatal drunk driving accident. The man reportedly ran a red light and collided with another man's car while he was under the influence of alcohol. The other driver, a 20-year-old man, died as a result of his injuries. Since that time, the 39-year-old man has served time in jail for his drunk driving offense.

Currently, the man convicted of drunk driving is serving a two year probation period. In a strange move, the judge ordered the man to keep a framed picture of the 20-year-old's driver's damaged vehicle in his home and wear a sign around his neck saying that he killed someone as a result driving drunk.

Court orders require the Texas man to wear the sign in public near the sight of the accident for four consecutive Saturdays. The man has been ordered to stand at that spot for eight hours each day.

If someone is convicted of a crime, they should serve a sentence that is fair and matches the nature of the crime that occurred. In this particular case, this man has been forced to wear a sign that will be a great source of shame. A punishment shouldn't be designed simply to humiliate someone. According to the Bill of Rights, those who are convicted of a crime should not be subject to cruel or unusual punishment. No matter the nature of a supposed criminal incident, a person deserves to have their constitutional rights upheld.

Source: Syracuse.com, "Texas drunk driver ordered to wear 'I killed Aaron Coy Pennywell' sign,"April 23, 2012

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