Perp Walk

wezorek

A perp walk, or walking the perp, is a common custom of American law enforcement (particularly NYC) where an arrested suspect is escorted through a public place, creating an opportunity for the media to take photographs and video of the event. The defendant is typically handcuffed or otherwise restrained, and is sometimes dressed in prison garb. Originally only those accused of violent street crimes were subjected to it, but since Rudolph Giuliani had accused white-collar criminals perp-walked in the 1980s, it has been extended to almost every defendant.

The perp walk arose incidentally from the need to transport a defendant from a police station to court after arrest, and the general prohibition of prior restraint (censorship) under the First Amendment. Law enforcement agencies often coordinate with the media in scheduling and arranging them. It has been criticized as a form of public humiliation that violates a defendant’s right to privacy and is prejudicial to the presumption of innocence. Courts have permitted it on the grounds that it arises from the limitations and necessity of police procedure, but have also limited it only to those times when it is actually necessary.

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