Today many newspapers ran a front-page photograph of ex–Bear Stearns fund managers walking in handcuffs. It’s called a “perp walk.” Instead of arresting people quietly, the police parade them in handcuffs before the media. The walk refers to when the whole spectacle is orchestrated in advance (i.e. “Are the TV cameras out there? Okay, let’s park the van 3 blocks away and walk slowly over to the courthouse.”)
Federal Appellate Judge David Sentelle, who was a former prosecutor himself, had a terrific article condemning this pernicious practice. Here’s an excerpt:
Why does the prosecutor subject the accused to that walk of shame in handcuffs before the media? It still appears to me to be no more nor less than an attempt improperly to sway the thinking of potential jurors or subject to the punishment of shame an accused who has not yet been convicted of anything…. The real shame, I think, is that of the prosecution more than the defendant.
Unfortunately, the full article is not available online.
For related Cato work, go here.