Fatal Driver's Sentence: 15 Years of Letter Writing

'Creative sentencing' is new legal trend
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2010 6:18 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Florida driver who was convicted of killing an Iraq-war veteran in a car accident won't be spending any time in jail. Instead, the 22-year-old Andrew Gaudioso will have to send a postcard to the victim's family every week for 15 years, the Orlando Sentinel reports. "He said he thinks of my son every day but, excuse me, I don't really believe that. I thought it would be better to force him some way to remember—at least once a week—what he did," said Thomas Towers, the victim's father. "I think this does that."

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The sentence didn't go into detail about what Gaudioso should write in his letters, but it did specify that if he doesn't turn one in weekly, postage attached, to his probation officer, he'll face 15 years in prison. The unusual punishment is part of a trend in "creative sentencing" which utilize public shame, like wearing a giant chicken costume or a sandwich-sign that reads "I STOLE FROM THIS STORE." Many legal scholars sharply criticize the practice as a reversal of a history of increasingly impersonal penalties: "There is a sharp difference between shame from a punishment and shame as the punishment," a Georgetown constitutional law professor says. "These sentences have a corrosive effect on the legal system."
(Read more sentencing stories.)

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