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Judicial CP - April 2006

Corpun file 17626

The Republic, Columbus, Indiana, 15 April 2006

Walker advocates flogging criminals

By Dave Evensen

A local state senate candidate said his assertion that public floggings should be reinstated as punishment was meant only to spark debate, and that it was not proposed legislation.

Greg Walker, of Columbus, stood by his claim in a July 2003 letter to The Republic, however, which said whipping would help alter the behavior of convicted criminals.

Walker, a lay minister and accountant, is running as a Republican against longtime incumbent State Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton, R-Columbus, in the May 2 primary election.

Walker received an endorsement last week from Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee.

The last legal flogging in the United States took place in Delaware in 1952. But Tuesday, Walker said prison sentences are ineffective or detrimental to changing convicts' behavior.

"All we're doing is criminalizing our citizens, who should rather be encouraged to change their behavior," Walker said.

"Putting individuals in a prison population criminalizes folks. Judges should have the discretion for alternative sentencing."

He referred to a verse in the New American Bible, Proverbs 10:6, which reads, in part, that "the rod is for the back of a fool."

Walker referred to that when asked if he still believed flogging should be considered for behavior modification.

"How can I not?" Walker replied. "It's in the Bible. It's God's word. If I put my wisdom before God's, then I'm also a fool."

Walker wrote the letter in response to a June 26, 2003, article in The Republic in which Superior Court 1 Judge Chris Monroe said that locking people in jail does little to change behavior, and that the main purpose of locking up criminals was to protect the public.

The article was about an early release program at Bartholomew County Jail for nonviolent criminals.

In his letter, Walker said corporal punishment for certain crimes makes sense and "is a most compassionate act."

"Flogging would have a high deterrent factor, be inexpensive, would not keep the perpetrator from working to support himself and any dependents, could be administered swiftly and, most importantly, would alter behavior," Walker wrote.

"And it works. I guarantee you, those who were deterred from wasting life with drugs or other self-destructive behaviors would thank the community for caring enough to intervene."

Others were skeptical. Robert Bingham, a professor of criminology at Indiana University-Bloomington, said the last he heard of legal floggings was in the 1950s in Delaware. He believed public outcry led to legislators outlawing the practice.

"I have not heard of any judge or candidate who has been for this," he said. "I think you've got some kind of time-warp going on."

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