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Judicial CP - February 1964
The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, 14 February 1964
Bill Asks Flogging Of Kid Punks
State Lawmaker Cites Delaware
By Ken Siner
Rep. Arthur Law, D-Pontiac, said the bill he alone is sponsoring would revive "an American institution -- the old-fashioned whipping with a switch or a belt.
"I don't think this will lead to the whipping post such as Delaware has on the books. But it's time we quit theorizing about what causes delinquency and do something to curb it," he said.
Law, 58, an Oklahoma-born grocer and veteran of three two-year terms in the legislature, would authorize public corporal punishment, preferably administered by the offender's father, on order from a probate judge.
This punishment would be in addition to other sentencing and be administered by the father of the child or peace officer designated by the probate court," the bill says. "The court shall designate the place and time of punishment."
"I think the judge should order it to be done in the school, in front of the other students," Law said. "They could call an assembly for it.
Courts Too soft?
Law said the courts have overdone the job of protecting children from abuses, and this has resulted in robbing the authorities of useful disciplinary resources.
Law said published accounts of juvenile rowdyism in Detroit prompted him to enter the bill, "especially when I read the teachers want life insurance.
"I don't see how these high school extortion rackets and such can go on without these kids later employing the same tactics against adults -- mugging and robbing," he said.
The Holland Evening Sentinel, Michigan, 18 February 1964
Will Oppose Punishment By Whipping
Kelley said if the bill introduced last week by Rep. Arthur Law, D-Pontiac, were enacted into law he would take legal action to have it declared unconstitutional as a violation of the state and federal constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.
"Juvenile delinquency is indeed a pressing and difficult problem. We have at times been urged to take a too soft approach towards it. A greater degree of firmness may be indicated,'' Kelley said.
"But public flogging of children is not firmness -- it is an admission of weakness, a throwing up of the hands of the community in despair at not being able to find a solution," Kelley said. "The answers lie somewhere between coddling and whipping, and the answers are not uniform."
Kelley said, "If a parent believes that spanking is a proper form of punishment, this is his prerogative. For the state, however, to resort to public flogging of juveniles is an entirely different matter.
"I am sure that our legislature will reject this proposal. In the highly unlikely event that it does not, and it is enacted into law, I would take legal action to have it declared unconstitutional."
The Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, 28 February 1964
Flogging Bill's Sponsor Thinks Public Favors It
Letters are running about 7 to 1 and telephone calls and "personal comments" about 10 to 1 in favor of the bill, Rep. Arthur Law, D-Pontiac, says.
As of Wednesday. Law had received nearly 30 pieces of mail. Some came from as far away as California, British Columbia, Florida and Massachusetts.
The letters ranged from praise to abuse.
"I am 100 per cent for your bill," wrote a man who signed his postcard, "Allen Park father of 5."
"Bravo, bravo, for your courage," wrote a San Francisco, Calif., citizen. "The modern hanky-panky of psychiatry ignores the best biblical advice of all -- spare the rod and spoil the child."
A woman teacher from Pontiac believed in "using the rod if you can't reach the child with other means."
But another Pontiac woman, saying she was a Democrat who would never vote for Law again, called him "cruel and sadistic."
A Wisconsin letter writer suggested to the legislator that he "go back to Nazi Germany," and a Kansas City, Mo., mother of five asked: "When did public humiliation ever create anything but fear and hatred? Are you also planning a revival of the stake for the burning of witches?"
Law said he has picked out a few letters to answer. Among these is one from a New York teacher who said the proposal for corporal punishment "casts discredit on lawmakers throughout the land."
The teacher also noted that "the Chinese, who don't whip their children, have a very low rate of juvenile delinquency."
Law said he felt compelled to answer the New York teacher because he is a man who is dealing with juveniles.
"If he hasn't awakened to the situation by now, I don't know how he is going to cope with it," he said. "Maybe some of these people think they don't have any responsibility."
Law's bill would provide for whipping in public of juvenile offenders by parents or law enforcement officers, at the direction of the probate court.
Atty. Gen. Frank Kelley said a flogging law would be unconstitutional, and, if enacted, he would attempt to have it overturned by the courts.
John Martin of Grand Rapids, Republican National Committeeman and chairman of the Michigan Crime and Delinquency Council, condemned the proposal as providing no solution to juvenile delinquency.
Law said he views it as an effort to reduce and discourage juvenile delinquency, but not as a cure.
"I'm sure it would be effective for some types of juvenile delinquents who show no respect for the law, or for those who are encouraged to break the law when they see others getting away with it," he said.
"But I think a judge would probably use it only rarely "
A mild-mannered grocer who once served as mayor of Pontiac, Law admitted that publicity about his proposal probably made him seem, in some persons' eyes, a "monster."
He said, however, that his voting record will show he has supported other forms of legislation to deal with juveniles, including rehabilitation programs for offenders.
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