Sunday, December 5, 2010

Corporal Punishment Alternative to Jail?

The topic of corporal punishment, specifically flogging, as an alternative to jail has been raised in the comments section our Shirtless Muscle Dude Gets Whipped by YouTube viewer Mindspring57.  He argues that flogging would be a viable alternative to career-destroying measures such as incarceration.  In this scenario, the guilty party for serious yet common offenses such as DUI could be allowed the option of accepting a public flogging in lieu of a jail sentence or a large fine.

As Mindspring57 notes, “for a 20-something business executive who has too much to drink at a party, it makes a lot more sense than sending him to jail. He would get to keep his job, not have to associate with the other people in jail, and have an experience he is not likely to want to repeat.” 

I would like readers of this blog to weigh in:  would knowing that you will face six months in jail or a public flogging upon conviction for a DUI be a deterrent?  If we were to implement this policy, do you think there would be many 20-something professionals who would brave the lash?


  1. I've seen someone who seriously proposed exactly that as an alternative sentence for DUI, even going so far as to proposing the design of the whip. (I'm not sure if they are still around, but try Googling for "Citizens for Effective Justice.") I'm not sure it would be a deterrent. Perhaps if the floggings were held on Saturday, noon, on the courthouse steps, with a big publicity campaign. I don't know if deterrence works against DUI. For deterrence to work, people have to be rational, they have to realize they are over the limit, and have to believe they will get caught. I'm not sure any apply to most DUIs.

    I've often wondered what would happen if any violent offender sentenced to more than 90 days also got 40 lashes upon conviction and 40 every 6 months thereafter throughout the length of the sentence, including any periods of probation, parole, time off for good behaviour, suspended sentence, etc. In other words, even if they were released early, they'd keep reporting to jail twice a year for their 40. Would it deter? or would a striped back become another mark of cred and respect among urban gangs?

    I also wonder the consequences of giving some common, everyday offense, such as speeding, a whipping as an alternative to a fine? How many young men, curious about the lash, would get caught just once, just to try it out? and how many would periodically keep coming back for more? If that happened, for that small group the deterrence would instead become an encouragement.

  2. You raise some interesting points, Curious One. I like the idea of having a recurring flogging as part of a sentence is very interesting.

    As for the stripes on the back becoming "cred", that is certainly something to be considered. There could be a way around that becoming an issue: use a prison strap like the one in our first YouTube video "Shirtless Muscle Dude Gets Whipped". That is a brutal instrument that will not break the skin, and thus leave no marks. As someone who has felt that heavy strap on my back, I can tell you that is not a pleasant experience (I am sure it would be even more unpleasant for someone who is forced to take it as part of a sentence).

    You might have a point about young men who are curious going out and committing petty offenses just to see how a flogging feels. I hadn't thought of that. I wonder, though, if they wouldn't just have their friends do it for them--there are many "belt whipping" clips on YouTube with college guys doing that, so I think it would be rare for guys to seek a forced judicial flogging just for the fun of it (but that doesn't mean there won't be any).

  3. I actually wrote a paper in school about having floggings as an alternative to jail. While everyone that I polled thought floggings were brutal, 95% of the people said they would rather be flogged than spend a month in jail.

  4. I think that most people would want to take the lash instead of languishing behind bars, where they would miss their family and get (further) behind on their bills. But that's a trade-off that we don't give to them because, I think, that society as a whole has become too squeamish to mete out physical punishment in public. I'm not making a judgement about that--I am just saying that society will have to have some attitude adjustments before flogging will again become an acceptable alternative.

    In times past, flogging wasn't at the option of the prisoner, it was at the option of the state. So, if we make public flogging an option in lieu of jail-time, some people will take it. A benefit of this would be that the prisoner could again become an active member of society that same day and would not become an added burden to an already strained prison system.

  5. Municipalities will never offer floggings in lieu of fines, they love that money. But in lieu of jail time? Sure. A brawny officer striping your lats saves them money and teaches a lesson. But I don't doubt that taking a public whipping would establish cred and toughness bona fides among gangs as long it was taken tough. Well, they are going to do that anyway, likes initiations where you get gut punched or burned with cigarettes. Males are wired that way. Its why you have blood pins in the service.
    Given that then, I would take 50 lashes a week for 6 months rather than jail tim, if it were offered to me. Its got to be voluntary and, sexist pig that I am, men only.

  6. The State of Delaware tried, some years back, to reinstitute flogging/whipping as an alternative to jail time. It failed to pass their Legislature, deemed cruel, I guess. Which in itself is interesting because the did it before. I guess that means we're advancing as a society, although that's really up for debate. But like Mike said, it's a money issue.

  7. It does make you wonder though - what possible argument could there be against it if the prisoner had a CHOICE in the matter. Surely at that point the "cruel and unusual" argument falls flat on its face if someone can simply say "Nah, I'll take 6 months instead".

    I don't see that ANYONE has had their rights removed or forced to endure anything - other than the prison term they were going to get anyway.

    As for the question posed about "committing a minor crim to see what it felt like" - I have to blush somewhat and put my hand up - the only thing that might make me think twice would not really wanting to gain a criminal record".

    Getting mates to do it is one thing if you have a load of free spirited peers around you but for guys in their forties - or just slightly less forthright ones, it can be a bit harder to strike up that particular conversation.

    Now if it came to a challenge from someone else - Oh yes, anytime :)

    Shame that yourtube seem so hellbent on removing whipping vids - I gather the indian guy standing on a train being electrocuted is "acceptable material" for them though. Odd logic!