Friday, June 17, 2011

Good and Mad Reading for the Weekend

We've blogged before about Peter Moskos and his argument that good, ole-fashioned flogging should be an alternative to incarceration.

This week, Moskos wrote this blunt and alternatively entertaining/maddening op-ed about his proposal.  A sampling of some of his bold, brash (sadly correct?) statements on America's addiction to prisons:
Today, the prison-industrial complex has become little more than a massive government-run make-work program that profits from human bondage. To oversimplify — just a bit — we pay poor, unemployed rural whites to guard poor, unemployed urban blacks. ...

Incarceration destroys families and jobs, exactly what people need to have in order to stay away from crime. Incarcerated criminals are more likely to reoffend than similar people given alternative sentences. To break the cycle of crime, people need help. And they would need less help if they were never incarcerated in the first place.
Flogging, as practiced in Singapore or Malaysia, is honest, cheap and, compared to prison, humane. Caning succeeds in part simply because it is not incarceration. Along with saving tens of billions of dollars a year, corporal punishment avoids all the hogwash about prisons somehow being good for the soul.
Some would argue that flogging isn’t harsh enough. While this moves beyond the facile belief that flogging is too cruel to consider, if flogging shouldn’t be offered because it’s too soft — if we need to keep people locked up precisely because overcrowded jails and prisons are so unbelievably horrific — then perhaps we need to question our humanity.
We've asked before, and we'll ask again:  what do you think is a harsher punishment, 10 years in prison or 10 lashes with a whip?  And since when did sentencing law become about picking the harshest option available?  Punishing is only one historically recognized purpose of sentencing law -- others are stopping future crime, keeping scary people away from the rest of us, and rehabilitating the offender.  Could flogging achieve any or all of those goals as well as providing adequate punishment?  Other than providing harsh punishment, does prison achieve any of those goals?

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Keeping scary people away from us?? Do the people who are willing to do the flogging count as scary?
Seriously, I think public flogging would be a huge deterrent to crime, it would be cheap too. I'm not sure about rehabilitating the offender.
I think a big problem is with the ways the laws are written. Too broad and vague. Too easy for honest citizens to go to prison for not much more than stubbing their toe.