I don’t remember the fellow’s name but I clearly remember his finger — that giant middle finger that he lifted in my direction as I stood there scribbling in my notebook on the Park Street sidewalk. 

The photo is a classic. You’ve got that proud middle finger jumping up from cuffed hands and behind it, a terrific sneer of derision and defiance from the young man to whom that finger belonged. 

Truly, the photo ought to be in a museum. 

There exists a whole bunch of great photos like this one, all thanks to the old days when the Lewiston Walk of Shame for initial court appearances was a weekly occurrence. 

The Shame Walk worked like this: A jailhouse van pulled into the parking lot across the street from the old District Court at the corner of Park and Ash. 

Moments later, a line of orange-clad inmates were led out of the van and marched across Park Street to the courthouse, where throngs of reporters and photographers awaited with a slobbering kind of glee. 


Was the Walk of Shame a cruel thing, imposed upon men and women who had not yet been found guilty of any crime? 

Possibly. But if the crime in question was one of high profile, then that prisoner march across Park Street was a great opportunity for reporters, photographers and curious lookee-loos to see the suspected criminals live and in bad breath range. 

As the suspected murderer, rapist or home invader made that shuffling walk toward the courthouse, the crack and snap of camera shutters could be heard nonstop as the photographers did their thing. 

Next to them, reporters huddled like voracious vultures, notebooks in hand and hard-hitting journalist questions to be flung at the notorious criminal headed into the courthouse. 

“Did you do it?” was always my go-to question. “Or what?” 

I’m a trained professional, you know. 


The Walk of Shame was a giddy affair for me. For making a small-time hack like myself feel like a genuine, big league reporter, no single event could compare to The Walk. 

The sheer unpredictability of the affair alone was worth the trip to the courthouse. Would the accused killer hang his head in a desperate attempt at anonymity? Would he smile devilishly and perhaps wink at the cameras? Would he become enraged like a zoo animal and lunge against his chains in an attempt to get at the gawking, blow-dried reporter shouting stupid questions? 

You never knew until the walk was live, and man, those eight or nine seconds before the criminals disappeared into the courthouse were a rush of adrenaline. 

For some of the more self-absorbed inmates, here was a chance to shine for the cameras and to maybe grab a little bit of local fame. For others, that chained shuffle into the courthouse was a horror show gauntlet.  

“Some would look down all scared and shameful,” said veteran Sun Journal photographer Russ Dillingham, “while others smiled like they were walking down the red carpet in Hollywood.” 

Inside the court there might be a byzantine system of rules and law, but out there on the sidewalk, for just those few seconds, it was a free-for-all. 


I’ve seen all sorts of dramas play out during that march of prisoners. Sometimes words were exchanged between the inmates and the crowds that came to see them. Sometimes there was spit or threats or minor scuffles quickly subdued by the stone-faced guards who led the march. 

Some of those walks stand out more than others. 

In 1995, three teens were accused of slashing the throat of a cab driver during a robbery in the parking lot of an Auburn church. It was a lurid crime and when the three suspects were captured and marched into courthouse, a buzzing throng of us was waiting. 

What I remember most about that day is the appearance of the 15-year-old girl accused in the crime. As she was led across the wind-swept Park Street, her long auburn hair blew out behind her. She leaned into the jail guard walking with her and it was hard to tell if she was smiling or grimacing. 

The image captured by a Sun Journal photographer that morning was haunting. The teen, accused of taking part in a savage attack on a humble cab driver, was quite pretty. She was the girl next door of a thousand clichés. For those of us standing in front of the courthouse, it was hard to consolidate this image of the girl with the grisly crime that had been committed. 

Meanwhile, the same day that the auburn-haired girl next door made her initial court appearance, a pair of 18-year-old men also made their way to the courthouse, accused of beating and robbing a 72-year-old man at Meadowview Apartments in Lewiston. 


Chained to them was a third man suspected of taking part in a home invasion on River Street. For those of us huddled on Park Street, it was a by-God parade of notorious souls, each reacting a little bit differently to Lewiston’s version of the paparazzi.  

According to a news account of that lively afternoon, one of the suspects charged in the Meadowview robbery “sneered, mouthed profanities and made obscene gestures to news photographers.” 

Which, I think we can all agree, is just good fun. 

The Walk of Shame was a chance for the public to see big-time killers like Lloyd Frank Millett up close and personal before the prison bars swallowed him up forever. If you were a friend or family member of one of the two women Millett had raped and killed, it was a chance to scream your curses right into his face. 

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but jailers began taking their inmates into the courthouse in the back, away from the curious eyes of onlookers. 8th District Court eventually moved to Lisbon Street and as far as I know, not a single public Walk of Shame has ever occurred there. 

Inmates are taken into the courthouse discreetly now, in an area inaccessible to the rabble. A lot of those cases are heard through Zoom hearings, so there’s no walk of any kind, shameful or otherwise. 


It’s a bummer for nostalgic reporters like myself, but it also cheats some of those prisoners out of grand opportunities to seize 15 minutes of shabby fame. 

I recall the dude with the giant middle finger, upraised so proudly, with something like fondness. These days, he could fly that finger all day long, but there won’t be any cameras there to capture the moment. 

Can you imagine anything sadder?

And of course, with no Walk of Shame, there is no more opportunity for reporters like me to fling their tough, well-crafted questions directly at the criminals.

Shouting “Did you do it, or what?” out on the Park Street sidewalk might be fine and dandy, but do it inside the courthouse and all you get is grief from the judge and bailiffs.

Boy, you learn THAT the hard way …

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: