Penology has been relatively ineffective around the world, crime and recidivism are on the rise in most countries, especially among the elites.
Many punishments for crimes have been and are being tried. The only punishments that are guaranteed to prevent a repeat of the crime are lethal. At different times in history, being accused of stealing a penny was a capital offense. Pickpockets routinely worked the crowds at the hangings.
This firmly establishes three things. First, public administration of the most extreme punishment is not a particularly serious deterrent. Second, punishments and crimes are not much correlated, given public acceptance we are free to set the relationships as we will. It is rare to have free variables like that in public policy, we should make full use of it. Third, if full-public extreme punishment doesn’t deter other citizens, out-of-sight lesser punishment must be less effective.
Overall, criminology around the world has failed to satisfy a public’s need for justice to be done and seen to be done, and to connect that with a punishment that genuinely deters future crime by criminal and citizens. As usual with public policy and policy research funded by structures of a ruling class and party, no one looks at the big picture, full context.
Small amounts of thought will convince you that social controls are far, far stronger than legal controls. Do most people not steal when opportunities arise because they are afraid of jail? No, police are rarely involved and jail is the least of it for the average person of any social strata. The social stigma and effects on family and future employment are far more serious for the average citizen. Crime increases with isolation from the larger society.
We viscerally feel social approval, that is what the Overton Window is. When you express an opinion that is outside of the Overton Window, you know people not only do not agree, they do not approve of you and your other opinions won’t be taken seriously. Unpopular opinions and acts result in losing status in their social circle. If you repeat a relative-heresy often, or if it is very unpopular, you will not be invited out to lunch, to parties, … perhaps ostracized from your social group.
Social disapproval is a weighty thing, and only auties are not aware of the limits of socially-acceptable behavior. In order to connect social approval more directly to miscreant’s and potential criminals’ understandings wrt socially-acceptable behavior, we need another level of social disapproval, this one a punishment, one that is very public and very social.
Public shaming and ritual abuse has been such a punishment in earlier societies.
No place in the world I am aware of still uses public shaming as a punishment for crimes. The old European method was the pillory. Pillories were a pole with handcuffs on a platform. They exposed the convict to the crowd. The crowd administered the punishment.
Pillories were effective in exposing the miscreant to public shame and abuse, ritual and real. That ‘real’ is said to be the problem, as time in the pillory was normally restricted to 1 hour to limit the damage that could be done by flung objects and the risk of suffocation from so much dreck thrown at them. Stocks are a version of the pillory that holds an individual’s head and hands in place, allowing them to sit down and also providing immobile targets.
The pillory and stocks were phased out in near-synchrony with the loss of the aristocracy’s control of the justice system. As it became possible for gentlemen to be punished by commoners, punishment was made a private prison cell, the model that survives today.
The text-book reason for abandoning the pillory has been that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, e.g. a tavern keeper who diluted the ale could be killed by a rival throwing a rock, or die from a disease of the muck. To avoid that criticism from modern criminologists, who will see the end of their employment in this proposal, we need a pillory guaranteed to protect the convict’s health while they are publicly humiliated. If we do that, the punishment can last indefinitely.
Left unsaid in the criticisms of pillories is the fact that a person in the pillory could be defended or lauded as well as shamed or abused. From Wikipedia “However, when Daniel Defoe was sentenced to the pillory in 1703 for Seditious libel, he was regarded as a hero by the crowd and was pelted with flowers.”
The Defoe case is evidence that the original pillory’s punishment did fit the crime, as individuals shaming and abusing a convict did so publicly, and had to go on living with any consequences in small communities. We can be sure that most punishment was verbal, the same raillery heard in any male social group. To the extent that community scale and modern technology allow the prisoner to track citizens, a modern pillory also fits punishment to crime. In the interests of community, that can be guaranteed as part of the sentence, e.g. a guest book everyone signs.
We can specify modern requirements for a pillory. Ideally, gathering at the pillory should be consistent with a range of normal social gatherings, as there are different needs of the public for expression of disapproval of different kinds at different times, e.g. the anniversary of a crime. Ideally, all of these social gatherings build community by their expressions of social approval and disapproval. Ideally, the pillory is low-cost, a positive part of a community whether used or not, environmentally friendly, and sustainable. Ideally, the pillory allows expressions of approval of the convict’s acts as well as disapproval.
To be wished for are sources of revenue that build community, pay for services and reduce the costs of dealing with convicts.
I believe such a pillory can be built and rapidly integrated into both law and community life. The keys are our primate innate distaste for excretia, the symbolism of escretia, and the fact that urine is sterile. Urine has long been one of the expressions of an individual’s disapproval, search for “Piss on them” if you need examples.
Thus our modern pillory should be a urinal set above stocks, with the convict’s head or face exposed to both the streams of urine and public view, otherwise protected. The urinal area can be public or private to balance local nudity conventions and individual needs for public ritual displays of their disapproval.
I believe this design meets the above requirements. It is small, functions as a urinal when not occupied by a convict. The area behind the stocks should allow the prisoner to sit, warm and in relative comfort for their time in the stocks. Sentences would differ in severity, e.g. N hours per day for M consecutive days, stock set at D degrees to horizontal, moved among the stocks of the community hurt by the crimes. The many gradations would allow punishment of people who now escape any punishment at all for reasons of age or health. This is not a physically severe punishment, the aged and infirm can be subjected to it in good conscience.
All social gatherings require urinals. There can be no community without urinals. Urinals are a social good in themselves, yet governments don’t provide enough. Additionally, the Pilluri (trade-mark applied for) allows expressing social approval of prisoner and crime via clean water and perfume. Likewise, anyone who disapproved of the use of the Pilluri could succor all prisoners, every act of cleansing and freshening both symbolic and practical. Flowers and petals, however, would plug up the system and must be prohibited.
I believe the Pilluri satisfies all of the ideal requirements and should be adopted into law for those reasons alone.
However, the Pilluri additionally presents great opportunities for optimizing community development. First of all, they will be a source of revenue for cities and civic groups. Optimally local, a square in a city could operate a Pilluri, charging citizens per use. As a profit-making enterprise, they could bid on particular prisoners to occupy their Pilluri and sell rights to video of the event. We can anticipate PortaPilluri companies to provide Pilluris from functional to grand with a wide range of prisoners appropriate to the occasion, county fairs, church socials, annual dinners, centennials, etc. Those organizations could combine their normal fund-raising auctions of goods, e.g. ‘First Piss’, with the ritual dissing the group finds most appropriate. This is another opportunity for individual creativity and social evolution in local communities, the new opportunities for social relevance can be expected to revive many of the important civic clubs and create new community interests.
The Pilluri builds community by providing opportunities for displaying social solidarity and funds organizations in doing so. Equally as important, this variety of punishment provides wide scope for feedbacks from the community and allows the judge to use that in a sentence. For example, if a judge is uncertain of how seriously a community thinks a criminal has hurt them, he could make the sentence indefinite, e.g. “until the income from renting the prisoner for Pilluri time falls below the costs of the maintaining the prisoner in county jail”. Crimes and consequences will not be forgotten so easily when profits are at stake.
There will be the usual bleeding psyche protests that the Pilluri is inhuman, inhumane, dehumanizing to both participating citizen and convict, and psychological torture. No, it is very human, part of our long primate line, “Piss on them” is a universal epithet in every culture and the deep primate heritage is why you shouldn’t annoy the apes at the zoo.
It is not inhumane, ritual shaming does not degrade the humanity of either party in the ritual and is fully consistent with high civilization, e.g. Europe up to near-modern times. No, we do not have superior morality now, as shown by the number of world wars, poison gas, bombers and missiles and their widespread use in every single war by the most modern countries against civilians.
It is not dehumanizing, it is ritual humiliation and shame, widely used in social control before the rise of modern states, part of the mechanism that scaled human societies.
It is not psychological torture, it is employing an normal mechanism in social organisms to improve civilization. As compared to the boredom and social isolation of a prison cell and the danger of modern prisons, the Pilluri ensures frequent stimulating social interaction between the Pilluri Prisoner (PP) and citizen in a safe environment, a social interaction that instructs them and any witnesses about the expectations of society and the effects of their crimes.
In fact, from the PP’s pov, the Pilluri is certainly superior to other forms of punishment. Who can believe the royalty of France would not have chosen to spend the rest of a long life as a PP? Who can believe that Dennis Hastert would not have chosen the Pilluri rather than the life sentence he would have gotten in an honest system of Justice, save for his inside knowledge of the Deep Black Swamp and files with a dead man’s switch? Even if pride had prevented a good decision, who can not believe that both societies would have had better futures using the Pilluri? Neither the royalty nor Hastert would have ever regained the lost power and prestige, as once someone has been pissed on by a sufficient number of fellow citizens, that someone is no longer a candidate for leader, and their fortunes would have been seized either way.
Likewise, from an ordinary citizen’s pov, the Pilluri allows a personally satisfying means of expressing solidarity with law and order in any social context. Prison cells are costly and private, they provide individual satisfaction in few contexts for few individuals. Worse, we now hear of prisoners in supermax institutions who are re-arrested on the street for other crimes, private prison cells may not be occupied as we think. Ineffective as they are, prisons persist because they satisfy our elites, not ordinary citizens.
The measure of that utility is obvious, it is a citizen’s rare opportunity to express opinions directly to elites who wronged them. What would you pay to piss on a king? The criminal who injured your family? Your nation? To be the first to do so?
Clearly, the Pilluri will improve civilization. We need to implement legislation quickly, to spare our many soon-to-be convicted Deep Black Swamp criminals quick ends and to avoid out-of-sight punishments that do civil society no good.
#PissOnThem needs your enthusiastic support to be moved into law, restoring public ritual shaming to its rightful place among the mechanisms of civic life and in modern penology.
Part II fits the Pilluri into a structure that corrects the current abysmal System of Justice.