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April 14, 2014

Would embrace of "judicial corporal punishment" help remedy mass incarceration?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this provocative new commentary by John Dewar Gleissner and given the headline "Who is biased against prison and sentencing reform?".  Here are excerpts:

Private prison companies and the guards’ labor unions are biased, of course.  Politicians do not wish to appear soft on crime.  Some communities need the jobs prisons provide. The public is biased about crime generally, and believes crime rates are going up when they are actually declining.  Many want prison to be horrible.  Who can blame crime victims? Taxpayers dislike money going to prisons. Law-abiding people do not have much in common with prisoners.  Businesses don’t sell much to prisoners.  Prison industries lose money and cannot succeed with government control.

The media prefer sensational stories about egregious criminal behavior. Once the offender is sentenced, the story usually ends. Prisoners do not have access to the internet.

Incarceration is hidden from the eyes of the people, harmful to the morals of prisoners and expensive.  Cultural, generational and religious bias prevent us from crediting our ancestors or other countries with effective crime-control techniques....

Attacking the supply of illegal drugs did not work.  The costs of fully supporting 2.3 million inactive welfare recipients, America’s prisoners, finally caught our attention.  The Constitution is the standard in conditions of confinement litigation.  But when the Constitution was adopted, massive incarceration as we now know it did not exist.  Back then, judicial corporal punishment was constitutional; it was approved of or used by all the presidents carved into Mt. Rushmore.

Incarceration is all Western civilization has known for several generations.  As the death penalty declines, most of us think of prison as the nearly exclusive serious punishment method.  Criminal justice systems focus on the single, inflexible, expensive and inexorable dimension of time.  Most Americans are shocked by the idea of judicial corporal punishment, which is invariably depicted as cruel, perverted or unjust in movies and TV.

Science proves that rehabilitation, restitution and deterrence are not often achieved by lengthy incarceration.  But some violent offenders deserve their long prison sentences. Prisons will not be abolished.  Real bad folks need to stay behind bars.

We think society moves forward.  Reformers are supposed to be “forward-looking.”  Belief in continual social progress ignores history.  Society periodically degenerates into barbarism, disorganization, bankruptcy, genocide, war and revolution.  Scientific study of changed values sometimes takes decades before conclusions are reached and legislation enacted. Our belief in social progress is accompanied by rejection of biblical principles in favor of unproven secular values.

We do not often enough look in the Bible for answers. If we did, the relatively simple solution to ending massive incarceration would be obvious: Deuteronomy 25:1-3. We could cut the American prison population in half. Modern behavioral and neurological science can and would confirm the superior effectiveness of traditional judicial corporal punishment. Believe it or not, judicial corporal punishment was largely abolished in the U.S. because it was too effective.

Judicial corporal punishment is in public, less expensive, much faster and repeatable. Its last use in the United States was to punish wife-beating without diminishing family income. In The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, Harvard law professor William J. Stuntz wrote, “Today's would-be reformers would do well to … consider the possibility that the best models for productive change may not come from contemporary legislation or court decisions, but from a past that has largely disappeared from our consciousness. Sometimes, the best road forward faces back.”

April 14, 2014 at 09:55 AM | Permalink


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Conrad Lorenz has some interesting things to say about beatings in "On agression".

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Apr 14, 2014 12:30:43 PM

Paul counseled, as I recall, later in the Bible (at least for some people) that disputes should be settled privately among believers, not in secular courts, when possible. An early supporter of alternative dispute resolution.

Various people were quickly struck dead for various faults, including lying. This also would help remedy mass incarceration. See also, the Book of Revelations.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 14, 2014 12:35:42 PM

Incapacitation is an excellent investment. Spend $50,000 or even $100,000 a year, save $millions a year, perhaps $billions in real estate values alone over a lifetime of prevented damage by the antisocial personality prisoner. This condition represent a natural catastrophe with every one of its ilk.

The best and cheapest is the mandatory guideline of 123D. Start the count at the real landmark of adulthood, 14, rather than the lawyer fictitious 18 years of age. No repeat violent offender makes it to 18 alive. We all spared their peak of criminal productivity. If others criminals are intimidated and decide life is worth more than the profits of crime, that is an unintended benefit.

If one wants to punish people, in the 1 and the 2 of the 123D, stop punishing the taxpayer by making punishment ever more expensive and difficult, lash them, totally in private to avoid the rewarding properties of notoriety. The first criminals to experience this warning as a prelude to the death penalty? The hierarchy of the lawyer criminal cult enterprise. These are heartless cult criminals showing no mercy to the American people, and who deserve no quarter as they make war on everything good about our nation. Lash the internal traitors twice, then arrest, try them, and summarily execute them for their relentless, remorseless betrayal of the nation. Nor can one distinguish between liberal and conservative, all serve the rent seeking purposes of the criminal cult.

The cult elements? Supernatural core doctrines that cannot be questioned without expulsion. Forcing recruits to study pure worthless made up gibberish for 80 hours a week to pass law school, isolating them for three years from outside human contact or reality. All of it is garbage in failure, from contract law to maritime law or any other law subject one cares to name. Mete out thorough intimidation, expulsion, and personal destruction of any apostate, however, rich, powerful and intelligent.

Then, fully infiltrate the three branches of government, and make 99% of its policy. They control everything even when the figurehead elected official is not a lawyer. Our Government has become a wholly owned subsidiary of this criminal cult enterprise. It is the most powerful and sophisticated, wealthiest criminal syndicate in human history, controlling an empire class government. There is zero legal recourse against it, its self dealt immunities and privileges, its control of its police thugs, and its potential to use force against any internal or external adversary.

If the public is oppressed by the cult criminals, all lawyers are doubly oppressed, and all ordinary judges not in the elite, are triply so. So get rid of the enemy, and see the profession bloom into one of the most productive and worthwhile utility products of all, the rule of law. Instead of destroying a $trillion in economic value, watch it unleash the economy to 10% a year growth, end the fiction in the system of crime, and mistrust, restore the patriarchal family, and end all social and economic problems of the nation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 15, 2014 2:07:34 AM

“Belief in continual social progress ignores history. Society periodically degenerates into barbarism, disorganization, bankruptcy, genocide, war and revolution.
... Our belief in social progress is accompanied by rejection of biblical principles in favor of unproven secular values.”

This was also noted by the excellent historians, Will and Ariel Durant:
"The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea.
Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith,
becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth."  Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, v.1., 1935

“Moreover, we shall find it no easy task to mold a natural ethic strong enough to maintain moral restraint and social order without the support of
supernatural consolations, hopes and fears. ... There is no significant example of history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining
moral life without the aid of religion.”  Will Durant, Humanist, 2/77, p.26; Will & Ariel Durant,The Lessons of History, 1968, p.51

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 15, 2014 8:58:50 AM

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