Cleveland’s Plain Dealer reports that Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler has begun showing his weekly sentencing hearings on social video site YouTube.com. I think this practice – immediate promotion and sharing of public proceedings – is great because it underscores the weight of the sentencing and removes more barriers to democracy and government transparency.
However, Judge Kimbler is also sentencing defendants to something he may not fully understand: the latent and permanent impact of online publishing. His sentencing videos will be searchable and visible perhaps for infinity. Moreover, video brings with it an entirely greater level of emotional impact. The bottom line is that while someone’s record is someone’s record, online publishing and search will alter our current notions of punishment followed by expected closure. Once you’re on YouTube, your record will have a far greater likelihood of haunting you till death, and after.