TX Judge Imposes Six Years of Shaming Punishment

Only in Texas? Or just more proof probation is no walk in the park? Daniel Mirales and his wife Eloise stole from a crime victims fund. She was a 16 year employee of the District Attorney's office. Is this shaming punishment really going to make a difference? And to whom besides the Mireles?

Daniel Mireles walked back and forth on Westheimer in front of the Galleria holding a sign. It read, "I am a thief. I stole $250,000 from the Harris County crime victim's fund. Daniel Mireles."

Mirales will have to do this for five hours every weekend for the next six years. (The spot is outside the Galleria mall in Houston.) This was his first weekend.[More...]

In addition, Mirales must spend six months, one month at a time, in the Harris County Jail. His wife, who was the public employee and creator of the theft scheme, has to spend six months in the Texas Department of Corrections, then six months, one at a time, in the Harris County Jail, and then, do the same shame walk for six years. In addition,

...they have to post a sign in front of their house that says, "The occupants of this residence, Daniel and Eloise Mireles, are convicted thieves."

They also have to do 400 and 600 hours of community service.

She must pick up trash and he may pick up trash, clean graffiti or wire homes for Habitat for Humanity. Daniel Mireles had been employed as a cable television technician.

The prosecutor says he'll do random drive-bys of the shaming scene to make sure they aren't shirking their obligation.

This is all part of a sentence to probation.

If they violate the terms of the punishment, they face ten years in prison. I wonder if one can panhandle while the other does the shame walk, or whether that would be a violation? The authorities already took everything in their home that was purchased with the stolen funds (if not the home itself, which had been landscaped with proceeds from the theft) and they also have to repay $232,000 in restitution.

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    How Absurd (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by squeaky on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 10:43:38 AM EST
    What a joke our country is, and particularly texas.

    This is ridiculous (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by lilburro on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 11:06:05 AM EST
    exactly what does this public humiliation accomplish?

    1) a light ... (none / 0) (#31)
    by nyrias on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:06:21 PM EST
    punishment for a crime.

    1. Cheaper than prison for the tax payers.

    2. There may even be a deterrent effect.

    Public humiliation is 10x more humane than hard hard in prison. These people got off lightly.  

    In that case (none / 0) (#33)
    by sj on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:57:17 PM EST
    Why not just bring back the stocks and pillories

    Because it does not hurt? (none / 0) (#35)
    by nyrias on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:12:55 PM EST
    The guy should be thankful (and apparently that he is) that all he got is a little shame (and have to stand around for 5-6 hrs).

    5 hours of standing... (none / 0) (#43)
    by sj on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 05:05:38 PM EST
    ...would hurt me.  Bad for the back, bad for the feet ... I hurt just thinking about it.

    No one (none / 0) (#45)
    by nyrias on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 05:18:36 PM EST
    says he cannot sit, or take a break.

    Plus, a few hours of standing beats hard prison time.

    And you are just a wuss. Many people have to stand that long, or longer, for their jobs.


    You're right, of course (none / 0) (#46)
    by sj on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 05:46:31 PM EST
    Many people have to stand that long, or longer, and I am a wuss when it comes to standing.  I could walk that long (probably) but I start getting light-headed waiting in line for movie tickets.  That obnoxious person sitting on the floor?  Probably me.

    At least with stocks I'd be seated.  I take it back.  Those things were no joke.


    We need MORE shame in this country (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by jbindc on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 11:59:11 AM EST
    Seems like a whole lotta problems would be solved (including poltically and in the criminal justice system) if more people had more shame and thought about what their actions might result in.

    I have no sympathy that this guy gets to duffer some embarrassment.  He SHOULD be embarrassed.

    It's juvenile (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by lilburro on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:29:21 PM EST
    why would we want to revert to a tar and feather society?  It's barbaric.



    I would certainly agree (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:43:58 PM EST
    that the vigilante-mob-justice practice of tarring and feathering is barbaric, are you sure that standing in front of a shopping mall with a sign is also barbaric?

    for six years? (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 12:08:28 AM EST
    Yes, it's disgusting. A weekend would be bad enough and make the point.

    I see your point, (none / 0) (#55)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 01:19:34 AM EST
    however, in I'm sure some people's opinion, a weekend in jail would also be "bad enough and make the point."

    They are avoiding 6 or (many) more years in jail by doing 6 years of sign holding on weekends.

    One could certainly argue that either sentence is too much, but, imo, I think it's pretty clear that doing the sign thing is much less harsh than 6 or (many) more years in jail.


    It's a throwback to that era (none / 0) (#23)
    by lilburro on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 01:26:56 PM EST
    and it certainly counts as "unusual" punishment.  

    Also from the story linked above:

    And they have to post a sign in front of their house that says, "The occupants of this residence, Daniel and Eloise Mireles, are convicted thieves."



    but isn't it better than the alternative (ie, jail)?
    Defense Attorney Rudy Vazquez calls the punishment heavy, but admits it is better than prison.

    "I think my client will gladly stand at that corner of the road and admit what he has done over and over and over again, if he's been allowed to stay out and continue to provide for his family," Vazquez said.

    contrite person in the world, that probably had something to do with the unusual sentence...
    Both pleaded guilty to theft charges in April.

    [Judge] Fine gave the couple two months to scrape together savings to make restitution as a show of good faith.

    They raised almost $95,000. However, that money may not have been paid back if the two had been sentenced to prison.

    Daniel Mireles testified during a heated cross-examination that he would direct his attorney to give the money to his children, rather than pay back the victims if he did not get probation.

    So he pissed off the judge (none / 0) (#29)
    by lilburro on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 02:41:02 PM EST
    and the judge reacted by humiliating them in a very unusual manner...

    Smacks of abuse of power to me.


    Make him do the prison time (none / 0) (#28)
    by lilburro on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 02:36:47 PM EST
    playing public humiliation versus prison time does not sit right with me.  Do we really need to create modern day Hester Prynnes?

    As I recall (none / 0) (#34)
    by christinep on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:12:16 PM EST
    Hester P was, indeed, the victim. The convicted felon in this case was the perpetrator who stole from a victim's fund.
    The holding-a-sign punishment is thought-provoking. The defendant's own attorney makes a good point about the relative leniency of the sentencing, tho.  Personally, I do not find the sentencing that offensive...under the circumstances. So much goes to one's own considerations about the nature of crime & punishment. Public acknowledgment of what one has done is not out-of-line in terms of the balance between punishment and rehabilitation.

    Well (none / 0) (#12)
    by squeaky on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:24:14 PM EST
    May as well start here:



    Why? (none / 0) (#42)
    by jbindc on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:52:15 PM EST
    Because I don't have sympathy for a thief?

    No (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by squeaky on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 09:44:45 PM EST
    It is the sadistic pleasure you seem to take at long term public humiliation.

    You seems to (none / 0) (#57)
    by nyrias on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 11:14:00 AM EST
    always equate no sympathy to pleasure.

    How does that logic works? Or do you need a refresher course on logic?

    While you can call other names like "sadistic", we can call you "criminal lovers" too. Perfect way to start a dialogue.


    Medieval Period (none / 0) (#58)
    by squeaky on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 11:45:31 AM EST
    This type of sadistic punishment goes back to the Middle Ages where they put criminals on public display in stocks, with signs and tatoos.

    We are worse. Five years of public humiliation is absurd.


    So? (none / 0) (#62)
    by nyrias on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 03:45:21 PM EST
    wearing clothes goes back WAY longer than the middle ages. Is wearing clothes bad?

    All you said is that the practice is OLD. Where is the reason why a little shame is bad? He is not even asked to suffer any physical discomfort.

    He SHOULD be shameful. He is a thief. Are you saying that revealing the TRUTH about someone is inherently bad?

    In fact, his lawyer said he prefers this more than prison time. I think this is lenient and he got off light.


    He who casts (none / 0) (#63)
    by lilburro on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 04:11:34 PM EST
    the first stone...

    Our criminal justice system is not supposed to be based on shame rituals as punishment.  

    Here is some info for you

    Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons (imprisonment was long unusual as a punishment, rather a method of coercion).


    In recent times, judicial use of public humiliation punishment has largely fallen out of favor since the practice is now considered cruel and unusual punishment, which is outlawed in the United States Constitution. Yet, this is not clearly defined, so some judges do use shaming as a form of punishment, whereby an individual may have to parade in public with a sign explaining their behavior and misdeed.

    Public humiliation is not something to mess with.  It generally leads to some seriously mentally f*cked-up people.  See Catholic schools in Philadelphia for example.


    no, because your (3.50 / 2) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 12:07:25 AM EST
    degree of dis-enlightenment is appalling. Please find a place compatible with your views to post this nonsense and spare us. It's not like you haven't been warned a hundred times your views are in direct contradiction to the principles of this site. Which makes you a chatterer. You do it for your amusement and you've worn your welcome out. Stick to BTD's threads please. You are no longer welcome in mine.

    But he's still no worse, imo (none / 0) (#19)
    by jondee on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:44:44 PM EST
    than all our vaunted 'public servants' who sell their votes with one foot in the revolving door every day, often with complete and utter impunity. Or, the Texas assistant DA who again, with utter impunity, knowingly railroads a Randall Adams onto death row..

    When you openly nurture, over a long enough period of time, a political culture that exempts the well-connected and powerful from having to subscribe to the rules of civilized society, you run the risk of having moral cynicism eventually spread through the entire system.

    Yet, we expect this jamoke to "be responsible for his actions", while the Doug Mulders of the world play golf at St Andrews and those who protect pedophiles are made Pope..      


    Let's not forget (none / 0) (#24)
    by lilburro on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 01:28:43 PM EST
    his last name is also Mireles....$250,000 is chump change for our Wall Street crooks.

    you're absolutely correct (none / 0) (#30)
    by pitachips on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 02:56:56 PM EST
    But prepare for incoming.

    Does that apply to prosecutors too? (none / 0) (#37)
    by MKS on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:21:46 PM EST
    If it does, it'd be news.

    It seems to me like (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by CST on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:29:41 PM EST
    his time walking around could be much better served doing actual community service - like the trash pick-up and habitat for humanity service.

    Personally I think it would be much more beneficial to society, and there's nothing glamorous about picking up trash.

    5 hours * 52 weeks * six years = 1560 hours that could be spent doing something actually usefull.  And it's a lot more than the actual community service time required.  That's what I call a shame.

    They have to do trash pickup as well. (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:38:38 PM EST
    I know (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by CST on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:44:31 PM EST
    400 to 600 hours of community service vs 1500 hours of "shaming".

    These priorities are completely out of whack if you ask me.


    Maybe it's a really clean community. (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 01:16:04 PM EST

    Sure .. (none / 0) (#36)
    by nyrias on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:14:26 PM EST
    better yet .. have him pick up trash on the street with the shameful sign on his back.

    There is no either or. He can be shame and does community service at the same time.


    hypothetically (none / 0) (#59)
    by CST on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 12:00:35 PM EST
    you could do a lot of things.  But we know what the sentance is.

    And I don't really see the purpose to the sign while picking up trash as it would probably hinder you in said purpose.


    The purpose is to (none / 0) (#61)
    by nyrias on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 03:41:15 PM EST
    shame him, as part of his punishment.

    Have him wear a t-shirt with the same info printed on it. Have him put a sign standing on the ground with his picture right next to where he works.

    There are PLENTY of ways to shame him while have him do community service. Use your brain. I am sure you can come up with lots of ways.


    Thankfully... (none / 0) (#65)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 05:32:02 PM EST
    not all brains work that way:)

    Heck if we're gonna do it, lets go all the way. Why limit shaming only to those who get caught or maybe don't have a high priced legal team. Everybody wears the worst thing they've ever done on their chest...lets all get to shaming.  

    Or would that be a shame too?


    This (none / 0) (#2)
    by lentinel on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:24:08 AM EST
    scenario could have been written by Larry David.

    Why is probation (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 08:03:03 AM EST
    Supposed to be "a walk in the park?"

    no one said it is (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 10:16:50 AM EST
    but many people think it will be, and I'm pointing out that it is not.

    By my calculations (none / 0) (#4)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 08:33:11 AM EST
    his 'punishment' is a little more than 10 weeks in the clink, he's certainly getting a lesser sentence than if he had stolen even 10% of that amount from a bank or in an armed robbery.

    Six months in jail (none / 0) (#38)
    by MKS on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:23:35 PM EST
    one month at a time.....unless I am missing something....

    The total amount of time (none / 0) (#47)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 06:27:48 PM EST
    let's say is 1560+600 = 2160 hrs.

    There's 168 hours in a week.

    2160/168 = 12 weeks 2 days.

    So, let's say 3 months total.


    That's just part of the sentence (none / 0) (#48)
    by MKS on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 07:15:49 PM EST
    The other part:

    Both Eloise and Daniel will serve 180 days in Harris County Jail one month at a time for six years.

    So, in addition to the six months in jail, Daniel has to carry the sign and do community service work....


    I see your point (none / 0) (#49)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 07:17:34 PM EST
    Do they (none / 0) (#5)
    by Matt v on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 09:00:24 AM EST
    have children?  If so, what a life they will be having...

    They may have wanted to consider that question (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 10:30:47 AM EST
    when the broke the law.

    Who, (none / 0) (#20)
    by Andreas on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:52:55 PM EST
    the children ?

    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jondee on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:58:42 PM EST
    it takes a village. A spiteful and vindictive village, but a village just the same..

    looks like they got off pretty easy (none / 0) (#7)
    by pitachips on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 10:27:21 AM EST

    If I'm not mistaken, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Radix on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 12:26:10 PM EST
    one of the benefits of Texas is it's homesteading laws. Doesn't matter where you got the money to buy your home in Texas.  

    would likely be otherwise fairly well-regarded here on TL:
    After considering pre-trial motions last Thursday by Green's court-appointed defense attorneys Robert Loper and John P. Keirnan, state District Judge Kevin Fine (an elected judge) ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. (see information on how to view the actual court records associated with this case later in this article.)

    When a brouhaha erupted over his ruling, Judge Fine clarified last Friday.

    Local news channel ABC-13 reported that Judge Fine later elaborated on his ruling, namely that the issue is not whether the death penalty itself is unconstitutional--that's another issue altogether--but rather it's the way that the death penalty is currently administered that is unconstitutional.

    Judge Fine is quoted as saying "[W]e execute innocent people."

    Make-up call? (none / 0) (#44)
    by MKS on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 05:06:31 PM EST
    Distract away from a death penalty ruling with some rough and tough Texas justice?

    My initial thought was, "anyone who (none / 0) (#32)
    by Anne on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:11:40 PM EST
    would steal from a crime victims' fund probably has no shame."  

    That being said, it would seem to me that there would be much more societal benefit in extending the number of hours of community service required than in making them do the 21st century equivalent of standing in the stocks in the public square.

    Although, I can't say as I would mind seeing some high-profile "thieves" in that position, with Dumpsters-full of rotting food for anyone who wanted to express their opinions in a more emphatic way.  I think I'm only kind-of, sort-of kidding.

    Isn't being arrested shameful also? (none / 0) (#40)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 04:48:20 PM EST
    Being booked? Tried? Convicted? Sentenced? Jailed? Being written about in your local paper? Etc?

    These two get to stay out of jail and work, and live in their home, and raise their kids, etc. However, they will be constantly reminded/shamed  about what they've done.

    I would imagine they'd be constantly reminded/shamed of what they've done had they been sentenced to straight jail time.

    What they have to do sucks, for sure, but I think the judge was fairly humanitarian to think outside the "go directly to jail" box.

    Sure (none / 0) (#56)
    by lilburro on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 07:46:20 AM EST
    getting arrested can be shameful (it wouldn't make me feel good), but it's not designed expressly to shame.  I don't like the idea that there's a "second option" that speeds up the process for the convicted, but requires them to go through unusual public humiliation.  That could go some pretty undesirable places.

    "Cruel and Unusual"???? (none / 0) (#50)
    by Doc Rock on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 07:20:58 PM EST
    Now the Repugs are attacking the Eighth Amendment as well?

    What's up Doc? (none / 0) (#51)
    by Rojas on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 07:27:24 PM EST
    Pretty sure there is bipartisan agreement that numero 8, 4 and 5 are old school.

    If our only benchmark... (none / 0) (#60)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 01:15:33 PM EST
    is to do better than the tired chains and cages, then yeah, I guess you could call shaming punishments an "improvement"...but that ain't saying much.

    Surely we can do better than "better than a cage" in our response to non-violent crimes...if shaming is the best we can do, we're still fall short of the humane ideal we should be striving for.  I certainly don't want shaming done in my name.  

    Besides, I'm only gonna feel sorry for a person with a court mandated billboard around their neck...it's not gonna draw scorn from me, that is reserved for the DA and the judge:)

    I would add (none / 0) (#64)
    by lilburro on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 04:16:43 PM EST
    the whole "who cares?  they committed a crime! f*ck 'em!" attitude towards criminals (which public shaming draws upon) is part of the reason our jails are so terrible too.  Yeah, our prison system is awful, but this isn't less awful.  And inasmuch as prisons are horrible and traumatic places, they are not supposed to be - that's our failure.