HIGH POINT, N.C. (WSVN) — A judge in North Carolina is giving men who plead guilty to domestic violence a choice: jail, or public humiliation.

Three men were ordered to carry signs outside the Guilford County courthouse that read, “This is the face of domestic abuse.” If they opted against holding the sign, District Judge Mark Cummings told the men they would get the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Two of the men spoke with Fox 8, telling the station that, while they pleaded guilty in court, they only did so to get out of jail and move on with their lives.

“[The judge] said I could do 15 days in jail or stand out here,” Melvin Southerland said. “So I choose to come out here.”

Southerland said he chose to carry the sign so he wouldn’t miss classes since he is trying to get his associate’s degree, but he said the punishment is indeed humiliating.

“It’s pure hell, that’s what it’s like,” he said.. “It’s hell, it’s embarrassment.”

Joining him outside the courthouse was Josh Hill, who opted to hold the sign in lieu of spending 150 days in jail. But he told the News & Observer that, in hindsight, he would have preferred jail over the “belittling” sign-holding experience.

“My friends now think I beat on women,” Hill said. “And I don’t.”

Hill was sentenced to carry his sign outside the courthouse for seven days, while Southerland was required to spend three days holding his sign.

The judge said he thinks the punishment is an effective way to curb the “epidemic” of domestic violence.

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