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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 21:58 GMT
Thief to wear 'I stole mail' sign
A mail sorting office. File photo
Gementera also must spend four days at a post office
The top US court has rejected an appeal by a sentenced man, who argued about the legality of having to publicly wear a sign stating "I stole mail".

The Supreme Court turned down Shawn Gementera's appeal without any comment.

Gementera had argued that the measure would humiliate him, violating the Sentencing Reform Act and the constitutional ban on cruel punishment.

He pleaded guilty to mail theft after being held in 2001 for stealing letters from mailboxes in San Francisco.

'Rehabilitation' punishment

In 2003, Gementera was sentenced by a district judge to two months in jail, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

The release conditions stated that Gementera must spend four days at a post office observing staff dealing with inquiries about lost or stolen mail, write letters of apology to the victims of his crime and give three lectures about his crime at schools.

The judge also ordered him to wear a signboard reading "I stole mail - this is my punishment" for a full eight-hour working day.

Gementera appealed about the latter requirement, but a US appeals court panel ruled against him earlier this year.

The court said in August that the record in Gementera's case showed the judge imposed the condition for the purpose of rehabilitation.

"Punishments aimed at imposing shame and humiliation are inconsistent with a constitutional requirement that punishments, even for heinous crimes, be consistent with human dignity," Gementera's lawyers were quoted by Reuters news agency when appealing to the Supreme Court.


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