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In Defense of Flogging, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Scope of the Problem

Peter Moskos, in his book titled ‘In Defense of flogging’ puts forward the view that flogging should be offered as an alternative punishment to imprisonment.  He asserts that imprisonment does little by way of reforming prisoners but instead is a catalyst to make them more hardened criminals.  In addition he asserts that the prisons are already overcrowded and expensive to maintain. He felt the original intention of the prisons was the replacement of punishment with cure.  Moskos feels that it is now time that we should re-examine this position in lines where flogging nay be both an active deterrent and a quicker means to deal with minor criminals without resorting to imprisonment. (Moskos).

Moskos felt that the prisons were more horrific than the concept of flogging. A perhaps harsh punishment but one that is inflicted in minutes and then treated by a doctor.  Based upon the premise of caning on the naked bottom similar to that carried out in Singapore.  This deemed a punishment befitting the crime and the number of lashes determined in line with the length of the proposed jail sentence.  The author does not advocate for the immediate re-instatement of flogging but is rather trying to draw attention to the horrors of our prison system.  The author points out that during the period 1970-190 the USA incarcerated an additional million people and this is not representative of the real crime rate.  The USA now houses more prisoners than any other country in the world.

Sociological Viewpoint

The sociological points are that people who are imprisoned have a greater tendency to become more hardened criminals.  For example, they are prevented from building family relationships, they cannot hold down jobs, their health tends to deteriorate and they are more likely to re-offend when they are leased because of rejection by society and no formal rehabilitation program.  The point being is that this is not really solving a sociological problem but just creating an endless cycle of events.  The author considers that the US system is somewhat unique because of 2.3 million prisoners is the largest figure of incarceration of all countries in the world including China.  He feels that the US has lost the concept of justice within a free society

The Prison System in the USA has largely been subcontracted to the Private Sector and is generally considered to be overcrowded and poorly run.  This all at a significant cost to the US taxpayer.  Prison and correctional Officers face a number of challenges today. Amongst the most significant of these is that they have no control over the number or kind of people that are sent to prison or the length of their sentence. A lot of the Officers are unprepared for the type of prisoner that they will supervise and historically have been under funded for this type of work. .  The private sector officers have more of a zero tolerance factor to anti-social or bad behaviour and can impose additional 30 day sentences for infraction of prison rules.  This has moved the prisons more distant from rehabilitation programmes and more to a commercial basis of incarceration.

The prison officers also have the difficulty of protecting vulnerable inmates and any minority group are always considered to be vulnerable in this regard. In addition, the challenges appropriate to gender and sex orientation pose new challenges when determining the accommodation arrangements of the prisoners. There is also the challenge of allowing the inmates to move freely around the complex without compromising their safety from the more violent offenders. It only takes on single predatory inmate to make all of the other inmates feel unsafe.  When this happens the prison management lose their sense of legitimacy and there often becomes the need to place these offenders into an isolated environment.

Other challenges include to the amount of inmates that are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. Hence these people are being based in prisons as opposed to that of special care facilities. The prison officers do not receive the appropriate medical training in order to deal with this group of people.  There are also increasing number of juveniles being processed through the adult prison system and some of these with no possibility of parole.

Author’s Conclusions

The author mainly offers his thoughts as a projected experiment in the concept of reinstating flogging.  He sees this as a more viable and economic way to the alternative of imprisonment.  He is perhaps missing the point of the human rights issues involved and many prisoners are mentally ill causing this to be more of a social problem that either flogging or imprisonment provides a sensible solution

I would recommend this book to others in terms of raising awareness on the state of the prison systems in the USA and the plight of those who become incarcerated.  The concept of flogging is really to focus the reader’s attention on the consequences of prison to a human being in terms of loss of dignity, how it goes beyond punishment leaving little scope for rehabilitation at a later date in an unforgiving and uncaring society. The lasting impression is the number of people that are currently in our prison system and that the US has the largest number of prisoners over and above any other country in the world.

References

Moskos, Peter. In Defense of flogging. Phildelphia: Basic Books, 2011.

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