Why Flogging Is An Injustice

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According to Jeff Jacoby, a columnist from the Boston Globe newspaper, in “Bring Back Flogging”, America’s current form of punishment for breaking laws is a waste and that it should be replaced with public whipping or flogging. Jacoby attempts to convey this subject by using several examples of how flogging has been proven effective in the past as well as introducing evidence that the prison system today is ineffective. Brian Hampel, a senior architect at Kansas State University, argues in “Public Shaming is a Good Substitute for Imprisonment” that flogging causes criminals to suffer both mentally and physically from the punishment and therefore allows them to endure real consequences rather than that of sitting in a cell. Hampel communicates his point with the audience by using one specific example in which public embarrassment has worked and by explaining the effects of flogging. The essay written by Jacoby does not accurately support the idea of flogging because he uses examples that are inconsistent with the modern era, he ignores instances in which incarceration has worked, and his essay is unsupportive of basic civil rights. Neither Jacoby’s nor Hampel’s essay does an adequate job of explaining the advantages of replacing the prison system with flogging or public whipping.

The examples to support flogging used in Jacoby’s essay are from the seventeenth century and therefore are inconsistent with the modern forms of culture, legal systems, and traditions. Jacoby gives an example of when flogging was openly accepted by the court and the public in the beginning of his essay; “Joseph Gatchell, convicted of blasphemy in 1685, was ordered ‘to stand in pillory, have his head and hand put in and have his toung drawne forth out of his mouth, and peirct through with a hott iron.’” This scene takes place in 1685 when trading was the primary source of communal exchange and the facilitating factor to the spread of culture across the New World. As society has developed, trading has evolved as well as the idea of public shaming has left the accepted values and the legal system of modernization. Flogging or public whipping is based on standards and traditions that are not in use anymore which is why Jacoby’s essay does not do a good job of communicating its intended message. Not only has our legal system changed since then, but new societal values and modern belief systems have put this form of punishment into an obsolete state.

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Both Jacoby and Hampel ignore how prison affects most convicted criminals. Prison serves as a detriment to the rest of a criminal’s life as well as something that will be in their families’ lives forever. According to Jacoby, “…prison is a graduate school of convicted criminal studies: They emerge more ruthless and savvy than when they entered”. Jacoby is claiming that prisons are basically birthing grounds for smarter criminals. He neglects to inspect those many criminals who have decided to turn their life around due to their experience in prison. Many convicted criminals go to prison and come out understanding whom they have hurt, how their actions have affected those close to them, and that their life can be better. “A prison record certainly doesn't do one's reputation any favors, but the threat of a record is abstract and easy to forget about when deciding to break the law”. In this quote, Hampel tries to claim that a prison sentence is never enough to change a criminals’ mind when in fact a conviction goes on a persons’ record and follows them for life. It is much harder for a convicted criminal to apply to a school or get a job when a prison sentence is on their record. Jacoby and Hampel focus on the negative effects of prison while there are many good reasons why prisons were first built and are still being built today. These two authors attempt to sway their readers by only presenting certain facts and forcing the audience into a closed opinion.

Public whipping requires that the human body be given to the governing state and sentenced to physical abuse. This act takes away the basic civil right of guaranteeing the personal ownership of physical and mental morality, survival, and safety. Both authors ignore that flogging is denying citizens their civil rights by writing to support this cause. Jacoby states his position on this matter by stating the following; “But there would be no cachet in chaining a criminal to an outdoor post and flogging him. If young punks were horsewhipped in public after their first conviction, fewer of them would harden into lifelong felons”. If criminals were sentenced to a whipping in public, this would put the government into a position of almost total control over the citizens. Basic civil rights were set in place to avoid the treatment of minorities or those unable to defend themselves as animals as previously described. Forcing those whom have been convicted to physical pain denies them of their basic civil right to be in control of their own body and the promise of protection. Jacoby is writing to stress the extent of influence that flogging has on a criminal. He is ignoring the fact that convicted criminals are still human. Hampel shows no regard for basic civil rights for the convicted by claiming this; “Even if it doesn't hurt one's reputation as much as a black mark on a background check, public humiliation forces a person to see and feel the consequences very, very personally. If you think the damage to yourself is real, that makes it real”. Every citizen is given the right to protect their reputation. In the case of which a crime has been committed by a minor, their identity is protected to provide them this right. Public whipping does not allow any criminal, minor or adult, to maintain their relationships without fault. Hampel is conveying that the point of flogging is to damage the convicted criminal so much that they will not want to commit another crime, but the objective of the legal system is to enforce laws and teach those who break them the consequences of their actions. Jacoby and Hampel make emotional connections with the readers by stating the effect public embarrassment has on a person but this is not the reason why there are punishments for breaking the law.

Sentencing is used to allow the criminal to understand how their actions affect others and hopefully change their mind.Jacoby uses accurate examples and claims against the benefits of prisons to support flogging, but he lacks certain aspects that allows the reader to connect with the content. Hampel uses a current example and supports his cause with many different points, but neglects to examine how public embarrassment affects the criminal in many more negative ways that incarceration does not. Jeff Jacoby uses his essay to persuade the reader that flogging is a better option than incarceration. What he neglects to do in his essay is use modern examples that the audience can connect to, he does not examine the times when prison does affect criminals in a positive way, and he does not recognize the patriotic idea that every citizen is guaranteed basic civil rights.

Although the reader may be able to understand the points made by both Jacoby and Hampel, neither of these authors do a well enough job of fully convincing the audience that flogging is a better option than incarceration.

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