A Modest Criminal Justice Proposal

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Peter Moskos, assistant professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a former Baltimore City police officer, and author of In Defense of Flogging, says flogging might improve our current (flawed) criminal justice system.


Peter Moskos

Comments [23]

leo from chicago from Chicago, IL

Wow, does anyone do their homework before these segments?

I find it amazing that no one brought up the fact that crime has been trending down since the 1990's and even if you don't agree that any of this decline has anything to do with increased incarceration, it might have been worth a mention.

Jun. 02 2011 03:27 AM
kitov from Jersey City

@anna, "an eye for an eye" has a bad reputation. It was an ancient strategy for limiting retribution. Under this dictum, punishment should equal, not exceed, the offense.

We might be able to do better than "an eye for an eye," but we might also ask if our current system of incarceration violates even that standard. Prison seems a harsh and excessive punishment for many jailable offenses. Nor does it clearly serve a deterrent or rehabilitative function for many offenders. I hear Prof. Moskos making a provocative argument that it is time to rethink our "justice" system.

Jun. 01 2011 06:17 PM


Jun. 01 2011 12:03 PM
anna from new york

OK, my comment was posted. Sorry about this mistake.

Jun. 01 2011 11:53 AM
anna from new york

Oh, the problem is solved - my comment isn't posted. Continue marching, zombies

Jun. 01 2011 11:52 AM
Eugene from Brooklyn

Now, I'm all for this flogging buisness, but the guest's proposal is aimed in entirely the wrong direction. Why beat the convicts? What will that accomplish? I say that we should judiciously apply the lash to judges and juries- a whack or two for every month of imprisonment that they impose.

This will most certainly ensure that folks aren't thrown into cages for years and decades willy-nilly as they are now. It will give those who would place themselves above us to mete out punishment a chance to get a slight taste of what they are doing to their victims.

Once we have adopted this common-sense legal institution, you can be sure that the now common unconsciously long sentences shall only be given out when judges and juries feel *very* strongly about the matter.

And think of the money that it will save for the taxpayers- imprisoned or otherwise.

Jun. 01 2011 11:45 AM
John from NYC

John Jay should give Peter Moskos job to Ed, who called in. Moskos makes a nonsensical sensationalist simplistic argument which seems unable to rationally defend.

Jun. 01 2011 11:44 AM
adrienne from Upper West Side, NYC

When people refer to "an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth" and how the Christian bible is so much more forgiving, it makes me nuts.

This is a totally botched quote from the original Hebrew, it should read "not MORE than an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth". The rabbis of the talmud interpreted this as a guide for damages, If I poke out someone's eye, I will be punished, but not the death penalty for instance, it would be something equivalent to the crime committed. This is a deeply just law from the Hebrew bible about NOT punishing MORE that what is necessary.

Jun. 01 2011 11:43 AM
anna from new york

I've just turned on the radio and I am already in pain. Yes, it's painful to listen to the illiterate "discussing" other illiterates and moderated by yet another illiterate.
Can someone inform this entire illiterate crowd what's the meaning of "eye for an eye?" Can someone inform hosts like Brian that they actually are allowed to have some knowledge and use it, particularly when ugly, two thousand year old bigotry is promoted?

Jun. 01 2011 11:42 AM
kate from Manhattan

That last caller (the previously imprisoned man) was right on. We need serious prison reform. If the subject of this book can generate that and not simply create another inhumane approach in the justice system, then OK.

Jun. 01 2011 11:41 AM
YZ from NYC

Has the guest simply given up on the prison system? Surely he has read Zimbardo and understands where points stand to be reformed...

...but this seems to be boiling down not to the prison system but to the justice system, particularly the way on drugs and its implicit social racism/prejudices. Could we hear more on that?

Jun. 01 2011 11:41 AM
Lee Bartell from Manhattan

We spend anywhere from $4000-18000 per year educating a child, and from $100,000-200-000 incarcerating someone. Why don't we reverse these numbers?

Jun. 01 2011 11:40 AM
Steven Kelly from Manhattan

Mr. Moskos addressed one of the political challenges to institutional reform (i.e., accusations of being "soft on crime"). As a former police officer and prosecutor, I would like to know Mr. Moskos's ideas on how to combat the challenges to any institutional reform by corrections unions. These unions are incredibly powerful.

Jun. 01 2011 11:40 AM
The Truth from Becky

Flogging, decapitation, castration, sure why not.

Jun. 01 2011 11:39 AM
Henry from Manhattan

I'm on board with everything that Peter Moskos is saying about the United States prison system, but it really saddens me to think of of the work that humanitarian reformers like Henry Stephens Salt worked to abolish such barbaric practices a hundred years ago.

Remember, our justice system will never be perfect, we've sent innocent people to death row. Incarceration is bad, but physically scaring a single wrongly convicted person is unthinkable.

Also, on a racial level, many men in the prison system are African American (rightly or wrongly, whole different discussion), flogging brings up historical connotations where the United States really shouldn't go there.

Look, there are many ways to attempt to fix the prison industrial system. Flogging isn't a fruitful topic.

Jun. 01 2011 11:38 AM

I can understand this argument for nonviolent offenders, but what about those criminals who are not considered safe among the general public, murderers, for example?

Jun. 01 2011 11:38 AM
William from Manhattan

A major component of flogging in the past was the public humiliation involved. The pain may have deterred some, but the fear of showing fear and pain before one's neighbors probably was a greater factor.

Jun. 01 2011 11:36 AM
Lars from Brooklyn

Swiftian satire? I'm tired of the collective delusion that we are somehow 'civilized'. By any yardstick, we measure up as savages.

Jun. 01 2011 11:36 AM
TB from Brooklyn

How about public stocks? It could turn the tide against public shamelessness

Jun. 01 2011 11:35 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

I missed the beginning of this segment but are we proposing flogging for the Jeffery Dahmers and Ted Bundys of the world?

Jun. 01 2011 11:35 AM
CL from NYC

If this is intended as a Swiftian satire, it fails miserably as art. If it is a serious social reform proposal, it is obscene. Either way, Moskos is out of his depth.

Jun. 01 2011 11:34 AM
rantz mohamitz

Stamford man accused of torturing black men indicted on 29 counts

Associated Press

A man who called himself "Dr. Hunter" recruited young men for a fake intelligence agency, then "trained" them by whipping them and placing needles under their fingernails, a prosecutor said Friday.

Jun. 01 2011 11:34 AM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

Flogging would be safer than incarceration for many of us; it also completely avoids the fiction of caring about rehabilitation except through punishment. I'm afraid that most of the nation are against any other sort, as they're convinced that things are fine save that some people are bad---there's no real problem with society that helps make people criminal...they might make exceptions when it's _their_ son or daughter, but won't believe it could ever be so be until such might arise.

However, I think paying attention to the specific punishment dodges the issue of the legitimacy of authority. If I thought the authority ordering my flogging _or_ imprisonment were legitimate, and had obeyed its own processes to enforce reasonable rules, it would probably deter me well from re-offending. Otherwise, though, it would only reïnforce my willingness to break its rules. Unless force is used constantly and brutally and unevadedly against people, it is ineffective unless it is seen as _legitimate_ force. This has as much to do with primate dominance signalling as with morals or ethics.

Jun. 01 2011 10:46 AM

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