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Judicial CP - October 1998

Corpun file 3925

Iowa State Daily, State University, Ames, 8 October 1998

Corporal punishment will reduce crime

By Aaron Woell
Daily Columnist

The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation. Now, you may consider this normal when you turn on the evening news and hear about nuns being mugged, but I'm afraid you're wrong.

Despite the misconception that the U.S. is the most violent nation on the planet, we are actually behind our friends when it comes to some areas of violent crime.

Just looking down the column percentages, I found that other nations were leading the way in such prestigious fields as auto theft and sexual assault.

Even Germany was ahead of us, though when you consider that they gave us Nazism, you might see how that could happen.

While we were not always the winner in some of those statistical comparisons, we were definitely in the race for the gold. Because we swept a number of categories and our criminals placed highly enough in the ones we didn't, we have the satisfaction of knowing we live in the most crime-ridden society on the planet.

Our policy of incarceration is not working as well as we had hoped it would.

I am tired of paying taxes for more prisons when the crime rate continues to hold constant. Sure, there are year-to-year fluctuations, but for the most part we live in downtown Beirut. All we need is for the Israelis to start shelling us.

Sociologists and therapists will try to tell you that criminals exist because their parents either didn't love them enough, or were too poor to afford toys for their kids, and that is why you are getting mugged.

Let's have a moment of silence as I give liberalism the Italian salute.

I think our criminal justice system has been hobbled by liberal revisions. No longer do we believe in harsh punishment for criminals. Actually, we do. The majority of us just have a hard time admitting it.

I'm a rational man, and I don't commit crimes because I consider the consequences of my actions. Becoming a prison bitch for a lifer named Bubba holds no appeal for me.

Unfortunately, most people in prison are in for petty crimes like robbing a convenience store with a spork. It's these people who make bad decisions that clog our courts and prisons.

The fact is that despite our astronomical incarceration rate, we still have high crime. This clearly shows that incarceration cannot serve as a deterrent.

The problem lies with the fact that the U.S. judicial system has only three very broad options when dealing with all types of crime: fines, incarceration and the death penalty.

Now, unless we're going to start fining people the value of their net assets or using the death penalty for every crime including jaywalking, we're not going to get anywhere.

So that leaves incarceration. But as we have seen, incarceration doesn't have a significant impact on our crime rate.

What we need is a fresh perspective, and maybe a dose of creativity.

Actually, I'm just going to cheat and say that we should copy Singapore, which has an admirable crime rate and a criminal justice system so harsh you would never dare complain about it being unfair.

So what if Amnesty International whines every year about Singapore's prison system? This is, after all, the group that berates us for denying our inmates basic human rights such as cable television and Nautilus machines.

Besides, once you commit a crime you tend to forfeit the majority of your rights. This is only fair when you consider that you have, after all, deprived others of their rights.

What we need to do is come up with a punishment so overly harsh as to be an effective deterrent, because only by giving a would-be criminal pause can we actually deter crimes.

To deter the first-time offenders, which constitute the bulk of our crime problem, I propose that we adopt caning as an additional tool of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Now, the subject being flogged usually feels a whole lot of pain and has some pretty good scars that he'll be too embarrassed to show anyone. That's the reason we're too gutless to use it here -- we don't believe in inflicting pain, and there's always some sleazy lawyer willing to sue for emotional pain and suffering.

Just looking at the statistics for Singapore, I can look into my Magic 8-Ball and predict that if we were to adopt caning here, there would be a dramatic drop in crimes across the country.

For the most part, the average criminal would realize that being caned sucked, and would either stop committing crimes or stop getting caught.

To ensure that caning is used fairly, I think it would be allowable to cane most first-time offenders, usually in conjunction with some other form of punishment.

For property damage, we can add fines with no jail terms, and for other things, a short period of incarceration after the caning. After all, the physical punishment should be enough.

As long as they think the justice system is working smoothly and harshly, they'll be happy.

Before you dismiss caning as inhumane and barbaric, try to see the other positive aspects, like the additional jobs it would create.

Aaron Woell is a junior in political science from Bolingbrook, Ill.

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