The contemporary Western prison system is a disaster. It is overcrowded, especially in the US, where more than two million adults are incarcerated—more than in China, which has thrice the American population. It is expensive: the incarceration of an inmate costs, on the average, between $20,000 and $60,000 per year, resulting in no less than $212 billion spent in 2011 (that is, in one year) to cover the judicial, police, and correction costs. And, perhaps the worst thing, it is inefficient at protecting the good people from the violent and the insane. These grow in “no-go” zones and pour from unprotected borders.
Recognizing the inefficiency of the prison system, some governments in Europe tried to change it rather oddly. It has been especially true in France, where a living leftist symbol, the former Guiana separatist Christiane Taubira, was appointed Minister of Justice to conduct an absurd reform. Under the pretense of jail overcrowding, and of a leftoid totem pole called “prevention,” the sentences turned lighter: house arrest with an electronic bracelet in lieu of incarceration; non-application of conditioned sentences for the recidivists; no minimum penalty; no more searches at the parlor; early releases. As a result, chronic offenders were released and were not long to assault innocent people again.
Here I would like to consider a forgotten type of sentence: flogging. Deemed as “barbaric” and “old” by the progressive—who prefer letting free rein to the worst crimes as long as they can turn a blind eye on them—flogging has been used for ages. It has been practiced by a variety of cultures. When one goes beyond the haughty “but it’s the current year” prejudice, one can see that flogging criminals could actually be an efficient solution to a host of chronic problems.
1. Flogging is a real deterrent
Individuals answer to incentives. Rewards and punishments are an important guide in daily life. Today, prison is a deterrent for normal, civilized persons, but it has long ceased to be for those who dwell in a thug culture. Thugs boast about their condemnations as if they were something to be proud of. In jail, they are surrounded with inmates who are just like them—in stark contrast with more civilized types who, to them, will appear as frail.
In France, prisons have become directed by gang leaders. These have enough influence on other inmates to have them rioting or pressuring a particular prison guard or inmate. Guards, whose testimonies make hair stand on end, have been forsaken by a bureaucracy that wants no fuss. They turn a blind eye on bloody settlements of accounts, on drug and cell phone trafficking. (In 2015, 30.000 cellphones have been confiscated, and that is but the tip of the iceberg.) Gang leaders keep communicating with their (anti)social networks from inside the prison. Islam has become prevalent to the point that 80% inmates are practicing Muslims: young Frenchmen, hopeless in such an environment, often convert, while Muslims and thugs feel at home.
Prison is still a deterrent for normal people. It ceased to be so for delinquents. Delinquents must be duly punished in order to be deterred. No more assaulted guards, no more gang leaders exerting underground power over jails and beyond, no more inmates feeling at home: just flog them.
2. Flogging avoids the “crime school” effect
It is often said on the left that prison is a school for crime. Someone early in his twenties goes to jail for a petty crime, say, a nonviolent theft. Before jail, he may have been unruly, but the universe of crime was still something foreign to him. In jail, he meets with hardened criminals, chronic offenders, guys who have a lot of experience of crime and constantly talk about it. In jail, he hardens himself in order to survive, both physically and mentally. Once he is out, far from being cured of his criminal tendencies, he will often still be part of a gang or thug network and live in a culture of crime.
This is a valid point. But what do we do then? If we remain inside the left’s usual walls, we face a dilemma: either those who commit unlawful—and especially violent—acts are let free, which allows them to reoffend, or they go to jail, where they harden as criminals.
Neither of these solutions is ultimately satisfying. On the other hand, being sentenced to whipping avoids both disadvantages. If you receive ten or twenty whiplashes, you will not learn to commit crimes, to scheme, or be pressured to convert to Salafi Islam. Flogging sentences safely avoid teaching how to be a criminal and merely teach not to be one.
3. Flogging is cheap and consequently fairer to the taxpayers
The prison system is very expensive. Some inmates work, but what they produce is far from paying even a small part of the cost of the system they live in. The burden falls on the taxpayers’ shoulders and contributes to the ever-growing public debt. Both ways, the average worker is ultimately the one who has to pay for it, even when he is a victim of the delinquents he isn’t even really protected from.
Having the victims paying for their assaulters is unfair. Having them paying for a system that fails to reform the criminals is even worse. A cheaper sentence would be fairer to those who have to pay for it—and it would benefit the nation’s economy in the long run.
4. Delinquents could keep their place inside society
If you get sentenced to years of jail, you will be separated from where you are used to live. These years will be a blank part of your CV. When you get out, if you evolve in a normal culture, you may have a stigma from your stay in prison and difficulties finding employment again. (If you evolve in a thug culture, your return will be celebrated as if you were a hero, but then you are unlikely to have anything good to offer.)
Flogging only takes a moment. It can be done discretely. Instead of spending, say, five years in jail, you could simply take some days off, then be back at work and resume with your daily life. No occupational de-integration, less space for thug culture, a system that punishes without destroying the social fabric.
5. No more corporations outsourcing their work to inmates
According to Wikipedia,
About 18% of eligible prisoners held in federal prisons are employed by UNICOR and are paid less than $1.25 an hour. Prisons have gradually become a source of low-wage labor for corporations seeking to outsource work to inmates. Corporations that utilize prison labor include Walmart, Eddie Bauer, Victoria’s Secret, Microsoft, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Nintendo, Chevron Corporation, Bank of America, Koch Industries, Boeing and Costco Wholesale.
A more precise article adds:
Under current law, all physically able inmates who are not a security risk or have a health exception are required to work, either for UNICOR or at some other prison job. Inmates earn from US$0.23 per hour up to a maximum of US$1.15 per hour, and all inmates with court-ordered financial obligations must use at least 50% of this UNICOR income to satisfy those debts.
And though UNICOR was basically owned by government, allowing it to be the sole beneficiary of inmates’ labor, the company became gradually privatized. Corporate fat cats, always prowling for cheap labor and legal tax evasion—while the middle class is collapsing under the weight of high taxes, debt, and precarious work—became able to benefit from a very cheap labor. This is one of the “secrets” behind Walmart’s unbeatably small prices, which have driven more than a small business to bankruptcy whereas the average Joe was blissfully happy to consume cheaply.
“Nationalize losses, privatize profits”: this is what happened with UNICOR and the inmates required to work. Now, if there were less prisoners due to the commutation of prison sentences into flogging sentences, the flogged could keep working for a fair wage—thus benefiting themselves and other small-scale businesses as well—instead of being used as near-slaves for the global elite.
6. A Manly Punishment
Prussian officers used to fight each other in traditional sword plays. When their duels resulted in them being scarred, they were usually proud of it, as scars were considered as marks of bravery.
In the same fashion, someone having chosen to be flogged instead of going to jail, if one could choose, would likely have a healthier pride of his experience. Today, those who are proud of having been jailed are usually the kind of individuals who propagate a toxic thug culture. Instead, having been flogged would be a healthier source of pride: one would not boast about frequenting the aforementioned “crime school,” but of having survived moments of intense pain.
Said pride would be fully compatible with the drive to behave well, as the proud flogged would also be efficiently deterred from straying again.
Due to the hegemonic progressive culture, flogging has been either deemed a “barbarian” thing of the past or is thought about as the prerogative of “backward” governments, like North Korea or Iran. Yet, this good old punishment has a variety of advantages which make it worthwhile to reassess. It is efficient, straightforward, and beneficial to the social fabric and to the economy as a whole.
If the delinquents and criminals were given a choice between jail and the flog, or if some of them were sentenced to mandatory flogging, they might be really deterred and would go back to work honestly; the jail system would be freed from its continuous overpopulation, and various breeds of corrupts or exploiters—gang leaders, corrupt prison guards, corporate fat cats—would lose some of their grip on society.
When we manage to get in power, we should really consider reinstating flogging.