Flogging vs. Jail

Liberal panty-waists like to moan about our prison population and compare us to the US and their incarceration rate. When you confront them with a possible solution they rarely have one or talk about gay solutions like more hugs and cuddles for the poor mis-understood criminal. The liberal panty-waists encouraged over the years by politicians too afraid to grasp the nettle came up with Home Detention….like that was ever going to work.

One guy who knows just a little bit about crime thinks the US should look at bringing back flogging as a way of reducing incarceration. His argument is as much for NZ as it is for the US.

Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore policeman who now serves as a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, is disgusted with the nation’s prison system. His novel solution: bring back flogging. He argues that the tactic could help reduce the prison population, the recidivism that jail breeds, and the cost of running the world’s most expensive and least effective prison system.

I can just see the comments that are going fly over this post.

I propose giving a choice for people to receive a flogging in lieu of jail or prison time. My goal is to be more humane. Given the choice between ten lashes and five years in prison, who wouldn’t choose the lash? I know I would. Because flogging would happen only with the consent of the flogged, it would be hard to argue that it’s too cruel to consider. If the choice were so bad, nobody would choose it.

I think one lash for every six months of potential incarceration is a fair deal. Some people say flogging isn’t harsh enough. Others say it may be too soft — though I really hope we haven’t reached the point in our society where whipping is considered too light a punishment.

Really struggling to find an argument against that logic. For years it was the same choice school boys, including myself, faced. Detention or a stroke of the cane? I always took the cane.

The actual flogging would be done as it is in Singapore and Malaysia, where it involves tying a person down, spread-eagled, on a large structure, pulling down his or her pants, and flogging the bare behind with a rattan cane. Make no mistake: it’s painful and bloody. It’s not a gentle spanking. But the process is over in a few minutes. Then a doctor can tend to the wounds and the person can go home.

I think merely presenting the choice helps us question the purpose of prison, and suggests how destructive incarceration is for the individual and society. It’s worse than flogging.

The Singapore/Malaysian style is brutal, but I hazard a guess that the recipient won’t be wanting a repeat. But I am sure people like the Sensible Sentencing Trust would argue that incarceration has led to a decrease in crime.

I agree that some offenders usually need to be locked up — pedophiles, terrorists, serial rapists, murderers — but there aren’t very many of these people. And they need to be incarcerated because we have reason to fear them. For most other crimes, flogging would be better. Arresting a drug dealer, for instance, does not reduce drug use. It simply creates a job opening.

Incarceration can actually increase crime. We know that the children of incarcerated parents — and we’re dealing with well over a million such children — are more likely to become criminals. We also know that people who do time are more likely to commit crimes when they get out, and that 95 percent of prisoners are released. I believe crime has decreased not because of our massive level of incarceration, but despite it.

This gets to the core issue of prisons: they fail at their basic mission of “curing” the criminal. We need to abandon the utopian ideal that prison is good for the soul. What could be a worse environment for rehabilitation than years of confinement surrounded by a bunch of criminals?

Interesting. But can we flog the pedos, rapists and murderers as a supplementary punishment to their incarceration?

We need to give criminals the resources they need to lead non-criminal lives. But giving housing, jobs, education, and health care to ex-convicts is a tough sell, especially when we don’t even give these essentials to non-criminals.

Without rehabilitation — which most prisons don’t even pretend to attempt — we’re left asking the basic question “Why prison?” The answer is always deterrence and punishment. Well, there’s no reason to think flogging would be any less of a deterrent than incarceration. And prisons don’t punish well, at least not relative to the amount we spend on them. Could we not spend the current $30,000 per year per prisoner more productively?

Admittedly there may be other, better ways to punish — methods that involve neither prison nor flogging. I certainly hope so. But as it stands, we’re stuck with prisons because we lack alternatives. Harsh as it may be, flogging is more humane, less destructive, and much cheaper than what we have now.

Home Detention isn’t working, for society, the criminals love it. Prison doesn’t work either, other than the criminals are off the street. Perhaps a return to corporal punishment is warranted.



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  • peterwn

    Trouble is, in the NZ scene the offender would want to go on sick leave / sickness benefit for a few months, then will claim psychological damage such that they cannot work ie invalid benefit. Of course Malaysia and Singapore does not have this kind of problem.

  • Misanthropic Curmudgeon

    Interestingly, Cameron undermines his and Moskos’ position on flogging/caning as a way of reducing recidivism when Cameron notes on the choice that “I always took the cane”.

    With Cameron saying “I always took the cane”, he indicates a recidivistic pattern on behaviour that the caning/flogging did not ‘cure’.

    • Different punishments…I learned for sure…never got the cane for the same offence. Sometimes got the cane because the teacher was just a prick.

      • Cadwallader

        The gut problem with coroporal punishment in schools was the arbitrary dishing out of it. It reflected more on the moodiness and incompetence of the teacher than the severity of the offence. I was caned regularly and probably mostly deserved it, but I recall one instance getting it for an offence that had never previously warranted it. The teacher was an utter cunt but now sadly deceased. Sadly…because I never got the chance to shoot him.

        • Misanthropic Curmudgeon

          As cadwaller notes, caning and strapping seemed arbitary. I was strapped for ‘overdue library books’ in primary school and caned for ‘insubordination’ at high school

  • positan

    In days long gone, before panty-waisted Labour, and later Green, politicians had invented their ever irrelevant, touchy-feely selves – punishment was aimed far more at deterrence than extracting “payment” for the crime.

    Imagine the results if our courts passed sentences of flogging for say, crimes of violence, theft, driving-under-influence, juvenile offending, etc – with offenders caned in public immediately following sentence. Wouldn’t we see our ever-burgeoning crime rate shift into immediate reverse – and the administrational cost of “justice” take a nosedive as well?

    Well then? Why not????

  • Ben

    It still seems pretty barbaric and not really consistent with an anti violence society, it seems bizarre that someone convicted of a serious assault would receive a similar assault as punishment, surely we have to be better than that?

    As an aside would this count as punishment at all for members of the benson pope club?

    • So what is better than walloping criminals? Hugs? Cuddles? Prison?

      • Misanthropic Curmudgeon

        What is better is incarceration used mush earlier in the series of recidivist offendeding, along with restitution and intensive councelling and help for the duration of their time.

        And for ongoing recidivits offenders, very long sentences, to reduce the growing number of victims.

  • Ben

    I see your point, I’m just a tad uneasy at the state getting its hands dirty, in terms of fundamental human rights, bodily integrity would certainly rank up there and while I agree with certain measures such as Paul Quinns bill, i’m not so sure about this, that said if they are volunteering for it well….

  • TitanUranus

    I believe the reintroduction of a sentence to hard work would probably deter more offenders than the threat of physical punishment , the threat that the offender may have to work up a sweat ,say on a road gang, clearing gorse or any other assorted work may have effect on the workshy criminal fraternity.
    But then again nothing seems to work in the US where they have the Death penalty and chain gangs, I think the overriding conclusion is that the criminals are just too fucking stupid to think of the consequences of their actions.

  • Don McKenzie

    Since WWII this country has been softening the consequences/penalties for crime and ‘presto’ now politicians complain about having to build new prisons.
    A few matters to consider
    * Stocks are no longer used to shame minor villains.
    *The lash no longer used. Study old newspapers and you will see what crimes justified the lash.
    * Hard Labour dispensed with (instead the crims have the use of the prison gym incase they become unfit on prison rations such as bacon and egs)
    *1961 the death penalty goes. Instead of 2/3 convictions a year in the 1950’s by 1971 there were 17 convictions for murder and our population virtually static.
    *No one wanted to be a ‘guest’ for a second time in the “Armed Forces Correction Establishment”. Ask an elderly Warrant Officer why?
    ** Realistic penalties minimise crime, however as a nation we have a great number with a vested interest in crime, the police , the courts, the Judicial brigade, the great cohort from the legal profession and then of course the misnamed ‘Correction Department’. May be they vote for politicians that keep their eyes shut.
    Sorting out the ‘nare do wells ‘ would go some way to balancing the budget and saving a lot of people from becoming victims of crime into the bargain. In my opinion,
    welfare and crime coupled with soft penalties make for a sort of Nirvana for the weaker members of society. The system we have got is a scandal.

    • gazzaw

      I’m with you 100% Don on an appropriate punsihment regime. It’s all about consequences. You quote the example of the military detention centre in Ardmore and you are right, very few went back for a second dose. I also go along with the death sentence for callous murderers – it;s very cost effective and there is nil recidivism. It will take dedicated Ministers to cut through the liberal bullshit in the Justice Dept & Corrections Dept and the whole legal, psychology, rehabilitation industry that hangs on to their coat tails. Collins and Power have at least made a start.

  • Juan Sheet

    Guido Fawkes is bigging up capital punishment at the moment – and started doing so before the riots that are taking place in the U.K. right now. My oppositon to the death penalty and the reasons for it are equally applicable to corporal punishment. It is uncivilised, backward and inhumane. We might as well go get us some slaves from a 3rd world country while we are at it. NZ cops have to admit that justice is not a science. Guilt is not a binary question. You wouldnt want to cane someone who was not really guilty and was being stitched up would you? I am right with the majority of your comentators here that meaningful punishment is something I would applaud if it were reinstated. It needs to be. Home detention is a joke and most crimes are treated too leniently in N.Z. In Aussie they seem to be harder on their rabags than we are. They still have persistent offenders but they are not as teary eyed liberal about giving a scrote a long lag as we seem to be. If a judge sentences someone to 12 months I believe they should be in jail for 365 days and not a day less. No rewarding good behaviour with time off. More days should be added for bad behaviour. Hard labour should be the norm and weapy leftys should not be allowed to work in prisons. A move toward prisoners paying for their keep by selling their possesions and working any skills they have while doing their lag would be a good thing. If you committed the crime you do the time. As the prisoner progresses he should be allowed to work in the community on such projects as conservation, painting old folks homes and the like. Things that give back to the wronged society. Resitution should be the secondary focus after punishment. Rehabilitation should be behind these. As the Brits are finding out being soft on criminals and having a culture of welfare funded non contributors with an expectation of a cushy life being augmented with a bit of drug dealing or theft, receiving, benefit fraud and entitlement is not a formula for the majority of decent people doing the right thing by the rules of society. Caning is not evolved and modern. Neither is what is there now.

    • arnuxii

      …uncivilised, back­ward and inhu­mane…
      But does it work?

      I lived in Singapore for 10 years, great place with awesomely low crime rates
      Part of the reason is cultural, without the burden of left-liberal ideology they are less likely to think criminal acts are acceptable
      And partly because if you do commit a crime it is not just the victim who suffers