Today we naturally think of incarceration as more modern and advanced than judicial corporal punishment, but it is not true that incarceration is always better. The facts clearly show that prison does not rehabilitate or deter many crimes and simply keeps criminals out of circulation while in prison. While the execution of judicial corporal punishment is horrendous and generally bloody, the effects of imprisonment are worse. Prison removes criminals from their families, marriages, jobs, friends, communities, and churches and puts them in an extremely bad moral environment for years. Incarceration does not offer the benefit of example, because it is hidden behind prison walls. In prison, convicts learn criminal skills, join or rejoin gangs, fight, go crazy or become depressed, suffer in solitary confinement, and adopt unhealthy prison values and customs. Most of the time, prisoners do not learn the work and life skills they need to be successful on the outside. After their release, more than half end up in prison again.
Every slave system in history flogged slaves, proving their effectiveness. Stable nations that use judicial corporal punishment today enjoy significantly lower crime rates than countries that do not. Historically, corporal punishment was abolished only because it is an unpopular reminder of a lower social status. For example, as St. Paul reminded a Roman soldier, Roman citizens could not be flogged. In most Western countries, it was reduced or abolished shortly after the political equality of citizens was achieved: in France after the French Revolution, in Germany after the 1848 revolution, in the United States after the Revolution. American and then more fully after the American Civil Revolution. War. After Britain abolished it, its crime rates rose dramatically.
Former slaves interviewed as part of the Federal Writers Project from 1936 to 1938 confirmed the efficacy of corporal punishment, especially in disciplining young men. Some former slaves said that corporal punishment taught them valuable lessons. Former slaves, in particular, observed that it was necessary and effective. While we often associate flogging with slavery in the United States, General George Washington used it effectively to discipline his mainly white troops. The Continental Congress initially authorized Washington to apply no more than 40 lashes, but in 1776, Washington sought and obtained the authority of Congress to impose 100 lashes. Shortly before the Battle of Yorktown, Washington sought the authority to impose 500 lashes. Thomas Jefferson provided “stripes” in a statute that he drew for Virginia. In its early years, the United States dispensed with large-scale prisons.
When performed in public, corporal punishment provides a much better example than prison time. Effectively deter crime. Severe pain fills the offender with the desire to avoid pain in the future. The boredom of prison does not convey the same message. Corporal punishment gives offenders an immediate opportunity to change their behavior and join a law-abiding society. Before incarcerated convicts can reform, they must first endure a clean version of hell that discourages their improvement and does not impart the skills they will need when released.
Judicial corporal punishment is much less expensive and time consuming than incarceration. Incarceration burdens taxpayers with expenses for food, clothing, shelter, medical care, security, personnel costs, construction expenses, and other burdens. America’s 2.3 million inmates are essentially a large mass of full welfare recipients. Incarceration removes people from the productive economy, cages them, and prevents most of them from working productively or efficiently in the private sector. Prison industries are state-owned companies and generally only manufacture products for state use. There are not enough prison jobs for everyone.
Flogging does not exclude imprisonment. Like prison time, it can be carried out over the head of the parolee or parolee. But corporal punishment is faster and more flexible. Multiple doses of flogging can be administered in the time it takes to serve a one-year prison sentence. Some criminals will want to “get it over with” and plead guilty, accepting responsibility earlier.
Judicial corporal punishment will not break families, marriages, communities and careers as incarceration does, nor will it increase welfare costs as much as mass incarceration.
Our society abhors the idea of spanking. Rarely depicted as a valuable punishment, it is often mistaken for a more arbitrary parental corporal punishment. But the more people learn about modern mass incarceration in the United States, the less they will object to judicial corporal punishment. The studies applicable to the often arbitrary and abusive parental corporal punishment do not apply to the rational use of judicial corporal punishment. We do not have scientific studies on judicial corporal punishment. All we have is history … and a growing awareness of the social disaster caused by modern mass incarceration.