In Defense of Flogging

In Defense of Flogging

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by Peter Moskos
     
 

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Prisons impose tremendous costs, yet they're easily ignored. Criminals-- even low-level nonviolent offenders-- enter our dysfunctional criminal justice system and disappear into a morass that's safely hidden from public view. Our "tough on crime" political rhetoric offers us no way out, and prison reformers are too quickly dismissed as soft on criminals. Meanwhile…  See more details below

Overview


Prisons impose tremendous costs, yet they're easily ignored. Criminals-- even low-level nonviolent offenders-- enter our dysfunctional criminal justice system and disappear into a morass that's safely hidden from public view. Our "tough on crime" political rhetoric offers us no way out, and prison reformers are too quickly dismissed as soft on criminals. Meanwhile, the taxpayer picks up the extraordinary and unnecessary bill.

In Defense of Flogging presents a solution both radical and simple: give criminals a choice between incarceration and the lash. Flogging is punishment: quick, cheap, and honest.

Noted criminologist Peter Moskos, in irrefutable style, shows the logic of the new system while highlighting flaws in the status quo. Flogging may be cruel, but In Defense of Flogging shows us that compared to our broken prison system, it is the lesser of two evils.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Moskos, an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who specializes in police and criminal science, debates with the utmost seriousness the merits of flogging as an alternative to incarceration. Whether it's called caning or lashing, he concludes flogging, which penetrates the flesh but is over quickly, is less cruel than depriving people of a chunk of their lives in "a barbaric, inhuman" institution where a record number of 2.3 million Americans endure insult and humiliation, with a high incidence of sexual aggression, rape, and a great risk of contracting a communicable disease. Moskos lists the long history of prison reforms in the U.S., but concludes that our penal system remains "an insidious marriage of entombment and torture." Presenting the Singapore and Malaysian models of flogging, the author draws on interviews and recommendations to boost his "thought experiment." Indeed, when Moskos mentions the possibility of electric shock as another option , readers will begin to wonder if the writer is poking outlandish fun and crafting a notion similar to Swift's 1729 classic "A Modest Proposal," using satire to call attention to the "shame" of our inhumane prison system. (June)
Library Journal
This provocatively titled volume claims that the American prison system is too expensive and has failed to be fully effective throughout its history. Moskos (law, police science, & criminal justice administration, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice) uses the long-abandoned practice of flogging to examine the American penal system's history and its shortcomings. Flogging faded in the 18th century, as penitentiaries strived to become more humane. In a straightforward style, the author argues that the humiliation of flogging is preferable to long periods of isolation. He further argues that the reforms meant to improve prison conditions have made them worse, e.g., in early jails, families visited prisoners freely and provided food and other necessities. Modern prisons separate prisoners from their families in destructive ways, and tougher sentencing has done little to stop repeat offenders. VERDICT Moskos's argument is unconventional and convincing. Those interested in prison reform will find much to contemplate here, although they may not agree with Moskos's arguments. Lay readers interested in the law will also be drawn to this. The title alone will attract a large audience.—Becky Kennedy, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.
From the Publisher

Randy Cohen, former writer of The New York Times Magazine column “The Ethicist”
“Peter Moskos presents us with a true dilemma, the dreadful alternatives of prison or flogging. To make that stark and Swiftian choice, he compels us to rethink our ideas of cruel and humane, barbaric and civilized, progressive and reactionary. It is invariably jarring to overcome a prejudice or abandon a dearly held belief & mdash; I try to avoid doing either—but Moskos makes it an intriguing, if unsettling, experience.”

Publishers Weekly
“Moskos, an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who specializes in police and criminal science, debates with the utmost seriousness the merits of flogging as an alternative to incarceration.... Indeed, when Moskos mentions the possibility of electric shock as another option, readers will begin to wonder if the writer is poking outlandish fun and crafting a notion similar to Swift’s 1729 classic “A Modest Proposal,” using satire to call attention to the ‘shame’ of our inhumane prison system.”
 
Bloomberg News
In Defense of Flogging isn’t a joke, a satire or a thought experiment... [Moskos] makes a convincing case...In Defense of Flogging is one of the very few public-policy books I’ve encountered that goes past wringing its hands over a societal problem to offer a viable solution, by which I mean one with a prayer of being put into place because it has appeal across the political spectrum.... At just over 150 pages of clear, smart and highly readable prose, Moskos’s sharp little volume has a potential audience far beyond the experts who dutifully slog through most tomes like this.... I know one thing, though. Given the choice between 10 lashes and five years, I’d take the whip.”

The Daily Beast
“If we’re capable of taking Moskos’ idea as a serious option to incarceration, it could have profound consequences for a nation that incarcerates its citizens at a rate that’s seven times as high as the other nations of the world. Clearly we have to find a way to reduce prison populations, and this just might be a logical one.... In Defense of Flogging forces the reader to confront issues surrounding incarceration that most Americans would prefer not to think about.”

Library Journal
“Moskos’s argument is unconventional and convincing. Those interested in prison reform will find much to contemplate here.”
 
Washington Times
“As a former Baltimore City police officer, assistant professor of law, police science and criminal justice administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Mr. Moskos is not unfamiliar with the legal or criminal aspects of justice. He readily employs this background to describe the ills of today's criminal justice system and his radical alternative.... ‘Flogging’ is intriguing, even in — or because of — its shocking premise. As a case against prisons, Mr. Moskos' is airtight.”
 
Salon
“Compelling.... Although his outrageous idea may conjure up unsavory reminders of U.S. slavery, by the end of “In Defense of Flogging,” Moskos might just have you convinced.”
 
Boston Globe, Brainiac
“Well-reasoned.... Even if you aren’t convinced that flogging is the future, though, Moskos’ deeper argument is still compelling. The act of punishment, he argues, is inherently strange, uncomfortable, and unsettling; there's a natural impulse to hide it away. Our prison system, though, shows that this is a mistake.... Instead of piling on the prison terms, we need to start asking hard questions about the value and meaning of punishment. Until then, we'll never have a sensible prison system.”
 
The Economist
“Brutal and archaic it [flogging] may be, but Mr Moskos convincingly argues that America’s prison system is at least as inhumane.... Mr Moskos’s proposal begins as a provocation and ends bleakly plausible.”

Chicago Sun Times
“An eloquent cry to address a problem that we spend billions of dollars trying to ignore.”

Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
“[Moskos] doesn’t really want to flog the evil out of prisoners. He wants to flog the indifference out of the rest of us.... His provocative book makes many sanely provocative points; it is one I’ve urged on those who want to do more reading on the subject, and I’d urge it again now.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465021482
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
05/31/2011
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Randy Cohen, former writer of The New York Times Magazine column “The Ethicist” 
“Peter Moskos presents us with a true dilemma, the dreadful alternatives of prison or flogging. To make that stark and Swiftian choice, he compels us to rethink our ideas of cruel and humane, barbaric and civilized, progressive and reactionary. It is invariably jarring to overcome a prejudice or abandon a dearly held belief—I try to avoid doing either—but Moskos makes it an intriguing, if unsettling, experience.”

Publishers Weekly
“Moskos, an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who specializes in police and criminal science, debates with the utmost seriousness the merits of flogging as an alternative to incarceration. . . . Indeed, when Moskos mentions the possibility of electric shock as another option, readers will begin to wonder if the writer is poking outlandish fun and crafting a notion similar to Swift’s 1729 classic “A Modest Proposal,” using satire to call attention to the ‘shame’ of our inhumane prison system.”
 Bloomberg NewsIn Defense of Flogging isn’t a joke, a satire or a thought experiment… [Moskos] makes a convincing case…In Defense of Flogging is one of the very few public-policy books I’ve encountered that goes past wringing its hands over a societal problem to offer a viable solution, by which I mean one with a prayer of being put into place because it has appeal across the political spectrum…. At just over 150 pages of clear, smart and highly readable prose, Moskos’s sharp little volume has a potential audience far beyond the experts who dutifully slog through most tomes like this.… I know one thing, though. Given the choice between 10 lashes and five years, I’d take the whip.”

The Daily Beast
“If we’re capable of taking Moskos’ idea as a serious option to incarceration, it could have profound consequences for a nation that incarcerates its citizens at a rate that’s seven times as high as the other nations of the world. Clearly we have to find a way to reduce prison populations, and this just might be a logical one…. In Defense of Flogging forces the reader to confront issues surrounding incarceration that most Americans would prefer not to think about.”

Library Journal“Moskos’s argument is unconventional and convincing.  Those interested in prison reform will find much to contemplate here.” Washington Times
“As a former Baltimore City police officer, assistant professor of law, police science and criminal justice administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Mr. Moskos is not unfamiliar with the legal or criminal aspects of justice. He readily employs this background to describe the ills of today's criminal justice system and his radical alternative. . . . ‘Flogging’ is intriguing, even in – or because of – its shocking premise. As a case against prisons, Mr. Moskos' is airtight.” Salon“Compelling… Although his outrageous idea may conjure up unsavory reminders of U.S. slavery, by the end of “In Defense of Flogging,” Moskos might just have you convinced.” Boston Globe, Brainiac“Well-reasoned… Even if you aren’t convinced that flogging is the future, though, Moskos’ deeper argument is still compelling. The act of punishment, he argues, is inherently strange, uncomfortable, and unsettling; there's a natural impulse to hide it away. Our prison system, though, shows that this is a mistake. . . . Instead of piling on the prison terms, we need to start asking hard questions about the value and meaning of punishment. Until then, we'll never have a sensible prison system.” The Economist “Brutal and archaic it [flogging] may be, but Mr Moskos convincingly argues that America’s prison system is at least as inhumane. . . . Mr Moskos’s proposal begins as a provocation and ends bleakly plausible.”

 

Chicago Sun Times
“An eloquent cry to address a problem that we spend billions of dollars trying to ignore.”

Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker“[Moskos] doesn’t really want to flog the evil out of prisoners. He wants to flog the indifference out of the rest of us. . . . His provocative book makes many sanely provocative points; it is one I’ve urged on those who want to do more reading on the subject, and I’d urge it again now.”

 

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Meet the Author


Peter Moskos is assistant professor of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the City University of New York’s Doctoral Program in Sociology, and is a former Baltimore City police officer. Author of Cop in the Hood, which won the 2008 PROSE Award for best Sociology Book, he lives in Queens, New York.

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In Defense of Flogging 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is much discussion inour country today about crime and punishment, the over crowding our our prison system, and this book offers an alternative. I would like ot see more discussion onthis topic among law enforcement experts.