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Do You Prefer Flogging or Prison?

Back in 1994, an American teenager named Michael P. Fay was caned in Singapore for theft and vandalism. That incident sparked an outcry here in the United States, as many people found it barbaric (to be fair, the reaction was far from uniform - a lot of Americans actually favored it).

Fast forward to today. Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is advocating flogging as a viable punishment to replace prison time:

[Moskos] argues that our prison system is not only overcrowded and violent, but that it is completely ineffective. "I can't think of another institution that has failed as mightily as the prison has," he writes. As an alternative, he says, the least dangerous convicts should be given a choice — jail time, or two lashes for every year of their sentence.

Moskos predicts the prison population would see a massive decline, freeing up billions of dollars for more useful purposes. Others suggest government-sanctioned violence would do nothing to reduce crime, and might even increase criminals' violent tendencies. Is flogging really our best option?

What do you think? Should we bring back the cat o' nine tails? Would you prefer flogging to years of imprisonment?

http://theweek.com/article/briefing_blog/272/crime-and-punishment


Why don't we flog people who make so many laws. Here in the land of the free, we have more of our own population in prison than anywhere else in the world. We also have more cops per capita than any other country. If we want to have fewer people in prison, we could just get rid of many of these stupid laws.
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I would prefer neither of the above. Instead, lets look at some methods that are actually corrective or reparative, rather than just punitive. Flogging is barbaric, and prison is both expensive and counterproductive.
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Why the US throw out the nonsense laws that try to enforce morality or personal choice, then maybe the UN-crowded prisons could be used for rehabilitation.
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1) people have tried to "rehabilitate" for a hundred years and crime and recidivism have only gotten worse.

2) Nice anti-US statement there, Alex. Why pick on just us when 90% of the worlds prisons are as bad or worse?

3) Prisons are nasty primarily due to who is in there in the first place. Putting a bunch of psychopaths and sociopaths together in a small, confined space isn't exactly conducive to a harmonic environment.

4) Want a child molester living next to you or in prison? If I steal your car, do you want me in jail, or counseled to find out why I choose to steal?
5) "Barbaric" is a null word and used only by those that want to denigrate a concept that they don't agree with. It is just as accurate to say that it is barbaric to allow violent sociopaths free reign in society.

6) There are BAD people in this world, grasshoppers. Very, very nasty people that would as soon kill you as look at you. It ain't poverty that drives them to this. It ain't some sort of social inequality. They just get off on hurting people and causing chaos.

7) I agree that prison sentences aren't much of a deterrent for the sort I describe above. They go in, get fat and happy while learning new anti-social skills in prison, and come out do to it all again. Perhaps flogging here might stem the tide of recidivism. (At least for the non-masochist types.)

8) Trying to force reality into being something that "feels good" and "feels right" never, ever works out. Cold logic with lots of testing and unbiased data correlation is what is needed. Unfortunately, there are no scientists looking into this issue since people only want solutions that make them feel good.

9) I am positive that this post will generate a number of flames and not a few four-letter words. Watch me as I don't care. So rant and rave to your heart's content instead of opening your minds to new concepts and being judgmental.
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1) people have tried to "rehabilitate" for a hundred years and crime and recidivism have only gotten worse.

2) Nice anti-US statement there, Alex. Why pick on just us when 90% of the worlds prisons are as bad or worse?

3) Prisons are nasty primarily due to who is in there in the first place. Putting a bunch of psychopaths and sociopaths together in a small, confined space isn't exactly conducive to a harmonic environment.

4) Want a child molester living next to you or in prison? If I steal your car, do you want me in jail, or counseled to find out why I choose to steal?
5) "Barbaric" is a null word and used only by those that want to denigrate a concept that they don't agree with. It is just as accurate to say that it is barbaric to allow violent sociopaths free reign in society.

6) There are BAD people in this world, grasshoppers. Very, very nasty people that would as soon kill you as look at you. It ain't poverty that drives them to this. It ain't some sort of social inequality. They just get off on hurting people and causing chaos.

7) I agree that prison sentences aren't much of a deterrent for the sort I describe above. They go in, get fat and happy while learning new anti-social skills in prison, and come out do to it all again. Perhaps flogging here might stem the tide of recidivism. (At least for the non-masochist types.)

8) Trying to force reality into being something that "feels good" and "feels right" never, ever works out. Cold logic with lots of testing and unbiased data correlation is what is needed. Unfortunately, there are no scientists looking into this issue since people only want solutions that make them feel good.

9) I am positive that this post will generate a number of flames and not a few four-letter words. Watch me as I don't care. Flame away instead of opening up your minds to new ideas and being judgmental about people.
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Vonskippy:

You want to throw out laws that "enforce morality"? You think it should be legal to murder people, or rape children, or steal from old people? Seriously? Isn't the whole point of laws to enforce morality?
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I think that "enforce morality" thing is basically code for "we should make it legal to get high on marijuana." Nobody wants people who commit violent crimes against other people to run free in the streets.

Corporal punishment, like the death penalty, is barbaric and doesn't do a thing to reduce crime. Remember that "boot camp for juvenile offenders" thing that was so popular years ago? TV viewers loved watching the punks cry while being yelled at by a "drill sergeant" but the camps did nothing to reduce recidivism.

A little less glorification of "thug life" in our society would go a lot farther.
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Norway Builds the World's Most Humane Prison.

(15 second Google search, If you want a better article on this you will have to search for it yourself.)
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You have a good memory. :)

To sum it up: they are trying to focus on rehabilitation and their recidivism rates seem to suggest it works.

"Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.K. and the U.S., the figure hovers between 50% and 60%."

Recidivism Rate In Norway
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That rehabilitation works better than just punishment (in whatever from) should not be any surprise if you have half a brain and bother to think about it for one second.

To quote Homer: "D'oh!".
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Another thing that struck me today. I was flipping trough the channels on somebody else s TV (I don't own one). And while I was going trough a bunch of American stations (some "Discovery" and "History" channels and some others, I'm in Europe mind you) something struck me: ever single one was about war (old or new), weapons or violence in one way or the other.

Coincidence?
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@JMM
I'd argue that laws are not to enforce morality but to maintain a minimum public standard of liberties.

That is to say, law exists to protect liberties, not enforce morality. If they were to enforce morality, we must first agree on what morality is. And you'll never see that.

Rape? Violation of liberties.
Murder? Violation of liberties.
Theft? Violation of liberties?
Smoking pot? Victimless crime....

Okay, maybe SOME people think it should be used to force morality. But I'm going to tell you that this goal is impossible because we don't agree on what morality is. But government exists first and foremost to protect the liberties of the populace. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
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Hmm.. good comments. I have to agree with a hero of mine, Stephen Fry, and his comments on his series QI (quite interesting). I don't have the episode to cite, but will paraphrase.

The huge economic impact of prisons - all the goods they manufacture - seems to have been an easy way to bypass emancipation. To easily create massive goods for pennies on the dollar is a form of slavery. If your work force is shrinking, just create the three strikes rule. This guarantees more slave labour.

Perhaps I should look into what goods are produced in prisons and boycott them - though i suspect those goods are many.
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May those who favor state sponsored punishments like flogging and solitary confinement never have a loved one condemned to such treatment.
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@JMM

You can't enforce morality. People are born with them, and one's way of life has an effect on them for better or for worse. You can only enforce laws & ethics.
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Here's something better: how about we rehabilitate them? Sure, there will always be those you can't help, but a large population of those in prisons can be helped by giving them some help. Keep in mind that a society is judged by how it deals with the least among them.
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I can't think of another institution that has failed as mightily as the prison has," he writes.

How about the educational system? Can we try some flogging there?
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