Suggest adding the whipping post to America’s system of criminal justice and most people recoil in horror. But offer a choice between five years in prison or 10 lashes and almost everybody picks the lash. What does that say about prison? … Never in the history of the world has a country locked up so many of its people. … Not even the most progressive reformer has a plan to reduce the prison population by 85 percent. I do: Bring back the lash. Give convicts the choice of flogging in lieu of incarceration. …
This is another area where we ought to listen to what academia has to say, and in this case psychologists would probably argue that since one of the main purposes of prison are to learn the subject a lesson, we ought to use more direct-feedback solutions.
One point to flogging.
not to mix topics, but who will care for the lashee after the lashings? could we prove our med is better than in other countries by requiring lashing and then providing the lashee with world class health care?
One might imagine that we could, but that does not seem to be the case. How many politicians run on a platform of rational analysis of corrections versus simplistic "tough on crime" posturing?
Your main argument is rent-seeking, and that has much less force against flogging than fines or slavery. You'd really claim we don't want flogging because we are afraid they'll be too much flogging? Seems we could monitor that overall level pretty well.
You can find my discussions of the general issue raised here in two places--an old JPE article of mine:
"Why Not Hang Them All: The Virtues of Inefficient Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, vol. 107, no. 6 1999 pp. S259-269.
and the chapter on crime in my _Law's Order_, conveniently webbed at:
The relevant passage starts with the subhead "Why Not Hang Them All?"
You can't compare different countries as if all things are equal. That's not a natural experiment. There are things more like natural experiments in the form of laws that have a strict age cutoff, or sometimes different laws in otherwise similar neighboring jurisdictions.
In Finland we are on a completely different track with our justice system.
For common assault, you get typically a fine comparable to your 30-80 days salary. For aggrevated assault you get probation up to 2 years. If you don't commit many other crimes you will not end up in jail. If you cause serious injury you get typically 1-5 years in prison.
If you happen to kill someone without intent, you get something between one year probation to maximum around 6 years in prison. For second degree murder you get typically 10 years.
For using drugs you get a fine, for selling drugs typically a probation. Only big importers end up in jail. For DUI you get a fine or probation. Only very high intoxication levels (more than 0.3% BAC) may cause a jail sentence. And probably not for the first time anyway.
For a burglary you typically get probation, for several burglaries 1-3 years in jail. Robbery may cause something from 1 to even 10 years, if you end up robbing a bank or large amount of money. For "normal robbery" in a small drugstore 1-2 years probation is a typical sentence.
If you are a first-timer you spend only half time in jail and the rest on parole. So 6 is 3 and 10 is 5 in Finnish prison math. We do have nothing comparable to "three strikes law" whatsoever. If you are considered habitual offender, you may have to spend your whole sentence in jail (10 = 10).
There are handful of people who have committed for example 3 murders in a row, each after they are released from previous sentence. However, huge majority of our criminals will never end up in prison again. Instead they are integrated back in society.
Our prison system is not for revenge, but for rehabilitation. I think our system just rocks. We have only 3000 prisoners in country of five million. And I feel very safe on the streets. I do not fear violence, but neither do I fear our government if I happen to end up doing something stupid. Our justice system is for the people, not the other way around.
There’s no incentive for the system to withhold punishment
Sure there is. Corporal punishment looks ugly and unpleasant, and people do not want to be associated with ordering it. That is why it was abandoned in the first place. Jailing criminals does not looks as bad.
Jail is admittedly more expensive, but to the prison officers unions, this is a point in its favour.
If you like, count all the executions as murders; then it's comparable to London or Tokyo.
That sounds like an extraordinarily dangerous city to me. It would also be pretty easy to kill someone if you knew when they were about to go through a drug checkpoint.
The problem with the lash is that it's cheap. There's no incentive for the system to withhold punishment in trivial sentences, so you end up with people serving the equivalent of years in prison for things like spitting on the sidewalk or extramarital sex.
The only way it could work would be if the corrections system was required to give the offender the equivalent of the cost to imprison them, say $100,000 per lash/year.
It is worth noting that Singapore uses corporal punishment and has the death penalty for drugs. It is the only country I know of with more executions than murders. This is compatible with it being a safe, rich country. It is much safer than the US and similar to Japan. In fact, it is a city, so it is more natural to compare it to cities. It is probably the safest big city in the world.
Brutality signals brutality. It is what it is. Interpreting anything else, including evidence for some open-ended 'monopoly on violence' might be your take on it, but what if no one else agrees?
I disagree. It signals clearly state monopoly on violence. And that is the basis of government.
An advantage to flogging is that the punishment does not have to be as great as compared to a jail sentence, because the punishment occurs closer to the crime, and is consequently more effective.
A problem with flogging is that it consists of violence, and becomes a sign of social breakdown in it's own right. As a sign of failure of social relationships in it's own right, violence cannot really be used in an attempt to improve those relationships.
Yes, I read the article.