Thursday, August 11, 2011
There has been some discussion on the County Farm post about flogging in lieu of incarceration. I was going to just post a comment in response, but it has been so long since I’ve made a post, I decided to go ahead and write one now.
Richie and Mike are in agreement that blood has to be drawn if a flogging is to be an option available to prisoners. But Mike believes that permanent scarring is unacceptable. I don’t see how you can get blood without at least the risk of scarring. But I don’t like the thought of blood being part of this for a couple of reasons: 1) It is barbaric. This isn’t the Middle Ages. We shouldn’t be looking for bloodsport (unless it’s cagefighting). 2) The danger to the person’s health. Even with medical technologies, there is the chance of infection, and barring that the trauma itself from loss of blood could kill someone (we simply don’t want that or the whole exercise becomes pointless). 3) If we want the public to accept this as an alternative to costly confinement, we need to meet them halfway with regard to sensibilities. Watching a man take pain is one thing, but watching blood splatter as the skin of his back repeatedly broken is something few would want to see.
The drawing of blood would turn people away from it--not the felons, mind you, but the public. I think a part of this idea needs to be the public administration of the punishment: Seize the men up in the town square and flog them so any citizen can watch—and see how a tough-guy thug takes the unforgiving lash on his bare back.
This is why I recommend that we go with the prison strap for the public administration of punishment. There would be no blood and the beating would be something the criminal would never forget. I have taken a dozen—a mere dozen—laid on hard with a prison strap and I can tell you that that will focus your mind—not just with pain, but with fear. It definitely takes balls to step up for that a second time.
Additionally, there needs to be a severity difference for misdemeanors and felonies. For misdemeanors, some standard number of lashes per offense category--let's say 50 for a class A, and 12 for a Class C.
For felons, it would be 50 lashes for each year he would have to serve behind bars if there were no parole. We could max it out at 100 per session, so that felons would find their backs exposed several times, to get it through their heads that those kinds of crimes are not acceptable.
Of course, there will always be crimes for which people need to be locked away. Violent offenders need to be taken off the street for public safety. But if flogging is good enough to prevent incarceration, it could be an administrative punishment for offenses to the rules of incarceration.
Even Time magazine has broached this subject recently (in June 2011), pointing out the cost savings to society of this alternative—and traditional—form of punishment. The bottom line is: If we re-introduce this traditional punishment, both as an alternative to incarceration, as well as a way of inducing compliance in those that we must lock up, society would be better served. We would have the knowledge that we are saving tons of money on a corrupt prison-industrial complex, while at the same time returning people to productive lives without long stints of confinement which hinder employment prospects and actually create a cycle of crime.