In this day and age, everything is on social media; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The amount of reach a post can receive is endless. This could benefit and also affect an individual’s reputation.
New Mexico state officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have teamed up together for a two-year program where they will use the power of social media to expose lenient DUI sentences. The state will be using this program in the five counties that have the highest rate of DUI related accidents and deaths. The goal of the program is to bring awareness of the failures in the court system when dealing with repeated DUI offenders.
The state of New Mexico will pay staffers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to attend court hearing by judges who are known for being lenient in drunk driving cases. The staffers attending the meetings will then report to state officials so they can identify repeat offenders and lenient judges. The officials will then post their findings on social media sites, such as Facebook, to inform the public know of court cases in which the DUI offenders were given a light sentence.
There have been programs similar to the one being implemented in New Mexico in the past but they have never exposed judges. The program has drawn scrutiny from several advocate groups as it not only compromises privacy, but also jeopardizes the reputation of the judges. Other counties across the nation post mug shots of the DUI offenders on their Facebook pages. These counties do it to discourage drunk driving. There are no reports of these programs proving to be successful.
There are plenty of other effective ways to call attention to injustices in the court system, but this is not one of them. It seems unethical to post someone’s identity online without their consent, especially when it is going to negatively affect their career. Judges are seen as authoritative figures and spend all day listening to facts. They have a lot of responsibility. They must use their better judgement to deliver justice and to keep criminals off the streets. DUI offenders are not always criminals and these judges should not have their reputations jeopardized for giving someone who made the mistake of drinking and driving a light sentence.
If New Mexico is aiming to discourage drunk driving, they are targeting the wrong people. Blaming the judges for the repeated DUI offences is not logical. If you want to reduce the number of DUI cases, they should invest in more DUI checkpoints. Shaming someone on social media for doing their job is unethical and will not make the problem go away.