Flogging as an Alternative to Prison?

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A new book advocates an alternative to prison, an alternative that looks back in time for punishment -- flogging.

"In Defense of Flogging" by Peter Moskos, a teacher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, claims the American prison system does not work, that it is "vast, inhumane, ineffectual and incoherent," the Daily Mail reports.

According to a story in Time magazine, Moskos proposes giving some offenders a choice -- either serve their prison term, or receive two lashes for each year of that term. This way offenders could replace "soul crushing" incarceration with intense, but short, physical pain and get on with their lives, he said.

"'Flogging should horrify people. But taking away a significant chunk of someone’s life is far worse than any punishment that is virtually instantaneous," he told

"We should be honest about prison and recognize that we’re sentencing people to years of confinement and torture. But we don’t do that. We still have this hogwash about prison being good for the soul. Deep down I think we all understand that no one leaves prison in a better position than they went in."

Moskos is quick to point out this option would not be available for murders, rapists and the most despicable of inmates -- it would be for less serious crimes. He claims under his plan, the prison population would be reduced from 2.3 million to 300,000. That would free up much of the $60 billion spent on prisons in the U.S. for more useful purposes.

Moskos is dismissive that the current prison system can be changed to be more effective, writing:

Prison reformers — and I wish them well — tinker at the edges of a massive failed system... I can't think of another institution that has failed as mightily as the prison has.