With the arrest of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn this past weekend also came controversy about one of America's armchair past times: the perp walk. Everyone from preppy killer Robert Chambers, to Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh, Russell Crowe and countless mafia associates have been put through the strange public ritual.
Although perp walk's have been used in the past (see: Oswald), they've become increasingly common in the media-saturated landscape of the last twenty years, especially in white collar criminal cases where they serve as a form of public shaming. And you can thank Mayor of 9/11 Town Rudy Giuliani for that: according to The National Law Journal, he is "given credit for 'patent[ing] the perp walk' for white-collar defendants during his tenure as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York...When the time came to arrest three prominent Wall Street traders and bankers that his office accused of insider trading, Giuliani directed that the defendants be arrested at their offices, handcuffed and escorted from the building to a mob of press that had been previously alerted. Charges against one of the defendants were dismissed, although damage to his reputation based on the perp walk and media frenzy was irreparable."
Mayor Bloomberg has also defended the practice: "I think it is humiliating, but you know if you don’t want to do the perp walk, don’t do the crime... Our judicial system works where the public can see the alleged perpetrators." But what if the perp is later found innocent?
Take a look through the gallery above at some other famous perp walks, including Lindsay Lohan, Kenneth Lay and Johnny Depp. Do you think that perp walks are unfair for defendants, or just the right amount of Schadenfreude?