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June 20, 2011

"Could flogging solve our prison crisis?"

The question in the title of this post come from the headline of this new Salon piece, which includes a Q&A with the author of a new provocative book titled "In Defense of Flogging." Here is how the piece starts:

America's prison system is in a state of crisis. Since the declaration of a war on drugs 40 years ago, our country has amassed the largest prison population the world has ever seen. Overcrowding and unconstitutional conditions have gotten so bad that one of the worst offenders, California, was recently ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to either transfer 33,000 people to other jurisdictions or simply let them go. Now former police officer turned criminal justice professor Peter Moskos has devised a modest proposal that, he argues, could solve the problem of our congested prisons overnight: give prisoners the option of being flogged instead of being imprisoned.

Moskos makes a compelling 154-page argument in flogging’s favor. He points out that since physical brutality is already a part of prison life -- for example, 1 in 20 prisoners report having been sexually assaulted by other inmates or staff in the past year -- and corporal punishment is a much faster and cheaper method of retribution, prison may actually be the more inhumane and less fiscally responsible option. Although his outrageous idea may conjure up unsavory reminders of U.S. slavery, by the end of "In Defense of Flogging," Moskos might just have you convinced.

Salon spoke with Moskos about the feasibility of flogging, the reasons behind our prison population explosion -- and why so many Americans want to see prisoners suffer.

June 20, 2011 at 09:02 AM | Permalink


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Graeme Newman made a case for corporal punishment back in 1985, although for non-disfiguring electric shocks. Unlike flogging, the shocks could be more consistently administered - no 'bad days' where the flogger takes out frustrations on convicted people.
The full first edition is available online (The second edition is better as Newman responds to many criticism and weaknesses of the first ed)

Newman is a retrubitivist and believes people deserve to be punished because of the harm they have caused. This is not shock "therapy." It is pain delivered not by poor management of the prison system, but taking responsibility for punishment via policy.

Posted by: Paul | Jun 20, 2011 9:17:15 AM

When a member of the cult proposes corporal punishment, it gets posted. When an owner of the law does, he gets called insane, and a troll. Funny, because that owner pays the salary of these cult members, and is senior to all of them in every conceivable way.

Here is another proposal. Enhanced interrogation is harmless. Convicted serial killers should be doing it full time in prison to get the locations of all the bodies they buried. Make their time productive.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 20, 2011 10:13:46 AM

Maybe flogging by wet noodle would be more appropriate in this case.

Posted by: james | Jun 20, 2011 6:28:15 PM

How about flogging some politicians.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 20, 2011 10:35:12 PM

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