One Way to Cut Big U.S. Prison Population: Bring Back the Lash


Would a return to flogging be an acceptable alternative to keeping 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons. Peter Moskos of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice faculty raises that possibility in The Washington Monthly “because something extreme is needed to shatter the status quo.” Flogging is severe and even brutal, Moskos says, but “prison means losing a part of your life and everything you care for. Compared to this, flogging is just a few very painful strokes on the behind. And it's over in a few minutes.”

Prison reformers “tinker at the edges of a massive failed system,” Moskos says. “We need much more drastic action. To bring our incarceration back to a civilized level [ ] we would have to reduce the number of prisoners by 85 percent. Without alternative punishments, this will not happen anytime soon.” Instead, Moskos says, “Most people would choose to be caned over incarceration [ ] Faced with the choice between hard time and the lash, the lash is better.”

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