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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.