Restorative justice or extortion? Shoplifting consequences at Walmart | Arkansas Blog

Monday, October 30, 2017

Restorative justice or extortion? Shoplifting consequences at Walmart

Posted By on Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 7:14 AM

click to enlarge PAY NOW OR PAY LATER: Walmart's participationi n a program aimed at deterring shoplifting draws critical inspection.
  • PAY NOW OR PAY LATER: Walmart's participationi n a program aimed at deterring shoplifting draws critical inspection.
The Marshall Project's ongoing look at justice system practices has produced another example of extraction of money from potential criminal defendants, this time in a practice in which Walmart participates.

The lead:

The shoplifter was caught red-handed at the California Walmart and taken to a back room by a store employee. Until recently, the next step might have been a call to the police, but, instead, the shoplifter was offered another option.

He was shown a short video about how terrible a criminal record would be. He was told that if he confessed to his crime and agreed to participate in a privately run diversion program — six hours of online behavior therapy—-he could avoid arrest, a fine or worse. The cost was $400. The shoplifter would be billed. He signed up.

Later, it turned out, he didn’t have the money, not even the $50 minimum installment required to keep his case out of court. And while eventually he did end up in court, it was not as a defendant but as evidence in a 2015 suit brought by the San Francisco City Attorney, who asserted that the tactics used by the company, Corrective Education Company, were illegal. In fact, the City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, equated CEC’s business model with “a Hobson’s choice, which is really no choice at all.”

“This company has set up a private, pseudo-justice system that is based on profit,” he said, calling the program “textbook extortion.”

A Superior Court judge in San Francisco agreed.

Walmart didn't respond to a request for comment on the specific case. But the article reports that Walmart has used the CEC programs in at least 2,000 of its 4,600 U.S. stores to decrease shoplifting losses. It hopes the program will allow a cutback in expenses for security workers. It pitches the program as a service to the community by a reduction in police demands — a 35 percent reduction in police calls by stores using the program. The program also claims success in discouraging shoplifters from repeat offenses.

Those caught up in the program aren't informed about various constitutional rights or diversion programs in the regular justice system, the article notes. Nor does the amount of the item shoplifted matter in punishment. The outcome is the same for a lipstick pilfered at Walmart or a pricey piece of clothing at Bloomingdale's.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Police identify two women found fatally shot on Chicot Road

    Little Rock police have identified two women found dead of gunshot wounds in an SUV parked next to a vacant trailer in a mobile home park at 11500 Chicot Road.
    • May 16, 2017
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The aftermath of Alabama

    • I'm still not hopeful. Even with all the positive framing of the situation in the…

    • on December 13, 2017
  • Re: The aftermath of Alabama

    • No one should forget the role played by Republican Senator Shelby in the defeat of…

    • on December 13, 2017
  • Re: The aftermath of Alabama

    • Moore said he wont concede and that he must wait on God to check the…

    • on December 13, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation