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by Peter Moskos

June 15, 2011

In lieu of prison, bring back the lash

I have an op-ed in the Washington Post:
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?
Read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding. Pls just ignore the hateful comments in the WaPo article. These folks obviously have no clue. And for the record - I'd far rather take a good thumping then spend a moment in the clink.

PCM said...

I don't mind the comments at all (though it helps that I haven't read most of them).

What is interesting is how the comments to similar pieces in The Chronicle of Higher Education (and even The Blaze) were so much more thoughtful and with it.

I also find their (unscientific) poll interesting in that about 1/3 of the WaPo's readers think it's a good idea. I'm not certain what I would have expected. If it were 10%, I'd be disappointed. If it were 90%, I'd be worried!

B.A.B. said...

I had the privilege of watching your father lecture once in 2002. He (quite literally) changed my life. Aside from the fact that he took the time to help me with a thesis paper a year later, I've been a USG employee in various capacities for the last six years, and when someone asks me why, I often echo his explanations of the value of public service.

Your article has had a similarly revelatory impact on my view of crime and punishment. I plan on purchasing the book shortly, and look forward to your future works. Thank you.

PCM said...

Thanks, B.A.B. My father always did value public and national service. Some of that rubbed off on me, I suppose.

One of the nice things I learned after his death was just how many people he helped, or at least affected in positive ways. I suppose it's a pretty good legacy to have (even if they are rather large shoes to fill).

Dare I ask, best you can remember, what were his explanations as to the value of public service?

B.A.B. said...

I watched him speak at his undergrad alma mater (though I wasn't a student there). Much of what he discussed was a recollection of how government/military service had changed the lives of himself and his classmates, and how they had (in turn) changed the course of our country.

The thesis of the talk was the potential benefits to a reinstatement of the draft. The gist, as best I remember, was that the argument that "you don't use the best iron to make nails" is specious because if the most-privileged and best-educated citizens do not invest themselves in the well-being of the state (either by military service or some other form of national service), the state is doomed to failure when its ruling class has no comprehension of what it means to sacrifice on behalf of their country.

PCM said...

Thank you. That does indeed sound like what he would say! It's great to hear because I knew it was his position, but honestly, I couldn't have articulated the "why."

He certainly was big on the idea of self-sacrificing leaders. And he often related it to the sorry state of politics in this country. Particularly war mongering presidents who never served in the military.

His graduating class (and he) was drafted. How many Princeton graduates today ever do anything for their country? Lobbying for lower capital-gains tax and working in finance is most definitely not "in the nation's service."

Anonymous said...

You sound like a pretty decent guy, but i would like to disagree on the flogging thing..I would suggest we figure how to get some of these guys out of jail and back being productive father's and husband's, With the backlash of their crimes they cannot even expect to get a job, no jobs to be had but if there were, Employer's look at their jail time and immediately say ...NOPE, We as a Country have to figure out how to stop building jail's and then trying our dammest to fill them, recently i read that jail's are sitting empty all over the Country expect for California, the petty crimes of Marijuanna and crack cocaine (not all are petty) We need to educate our young men better, I am constantly discussing jail with my grandson's and they know that is nowhere they want to be and how we educate them to a better life, well i am rambling so i will close, I read your article in the Star Tribune in Mpls then i found you on the web..again i am not for any kind of hands on brutality..we have enough of that already....a Grandmother

PCM said...

I agree. But I'm not optimistic any of that is going to happen. Then what?

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