Texas judge orders convicted drunk driver to public humiliation
A judge in Houston sentenced a convicted drunk driver to humiliation. The drunk driver killed another man when he crashed into his car. Now the whole city will know what happened.
In June of 2011, 20 year old Aaron Pennywell was killed when he was struck by 38-year-old Michael Giacona.
Saturday, Giacona will re-visit the scene, but not because he wants to.
Harris County Judge Mike Fields has ordered him to spend the next four Saturdays out there from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. while wearing a sign that says he killed Pennywell.
"Maybe we should try shaming people more often," said retired Travis County Judge Jon Wisser.
Retired Travis County Judge Jon Wisser says he's never done something this unique, but he's not against it.
"The law permits a judge to use any reasonable means of punishment," Wisser said. "The old days we had stocks put people in a public square. We put their arms and hands through things tried to shame them and humiliate them. This is a throw back to that. Maybe we ought to try and humiliate and shame defendants and maybe that will prevent them from doing that again."
Not everyone thinks wearing a sign is appropriate even if a death is involved.
"I think it’s a little barbaric. I feel like I'm re-reading the Scarlett letter. I don't think it's fair," said Austinite Keana Culjak-Reif.
"There's no comfort, that can't be fixed. What can be fixed is what the judge is trying to do help other people from using their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers," said Austinite Glenn Gadbois.
Although this wasn't the victim's family's idea, according to the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter they are pleased.
"The mother said she loved the idea because it makes this person, maybe it will help them think twice before they get behind the wheel because it's my understanding it was this man's second DWI," said John McNamee, MADD Southeast Texas Affiliate Executive Director.
Just in case Giacona forgets what he did during the week, Judge Mike Fields is also forcing him to keep a picture of the victim's wrecked car in his living room.
"Harris County leads the nation in drunk driving fatalities and if this brings more awareness to people in the community when they see a person wearing a placard, they realize the cost of drunk driving and gets them to change their behavior, then we would fully support that because something needs to change in Harris County," said McNamee.
According to the judge, a probation officer will be going out to the crash site to make sure Giacona is doing what he should. A probation officer will also be doing random home visits to look for the wrecked car picture.
Giacona also been sentenced to two years and must attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Drunk Driver Sentenced to Humiliation