A judge has ordered some people convicted of misdemeanors to publish their photographs and information about their crimes in a newspaper. But a publisher said he may not accept the advertising.
Escambia County Judge William White said he imposed the unusual punishment on Friday to serve as a deterrent. The sentence was given to about a dozen people convicted of soliciting for immoral purposes, drunken driving and shoplifting.White said he was worried about the annual rise in drunken driving and theft arrests during the holiday season and the growing threat of AIDS.
"When you've got an AIDS epidemic, they're not just risking their life," White said, referring to those convicted of soliciting for sex. "They're risking everybody's life."
He ordered advertisements, measuring one column by 2 inches, be placed in the Pensacola News Journal, this Florida Panhandle city's only daily newspaper.
News Journal Publisher Kenneth W. Andrews on Friday said he has consulted with lawyers and not yet decided whether to accept the ads.
"We're not comfortable with it yet," Andrews said. He added that he will look at the issue further.
At least one defense lawyer objected to the unusual sentence. Joel Cohen wrote White a letter asking that he hold a hearing to consider mitigating circumstances and an alternate punishment for one of his clients, David E. Davis, who pleaded no contest to a soliciting charge. Cohen also said he may file a civil suit to try to block the advertising order.
"This is a precedent-setting thing," Cohen said. "People who get convicted of felonies don't get this kind of public shame."
Davis, 44, of rural Holt also was placed on probation for six months, fined $80 and ordered to write an essay on AIDS and venereal disease and have his wife sign it.
"The past two weeks my wife and I have suffered a lot," Davis said. "I felt like I was innocent, but I didn't have the money to fight the charge. Now this is just more humiliation."