Dec 19, 2018 in Book Review

Book Review: In Defense of Flogging

The book "In Defense of Flogging" addresses one of the key policy issues of debate in the United States. The main topic concerns the prison system. In an attempt to address criminal justice, the US adjusted its justice system. The pressure for human rights and dignity in punishment led to the ousting of the famous public logging of the nineties, and instead replaced it with the current prison system. However, the coming of the prison system has been accompanied by many challenges. The prison has become one of the areas where crime has even been propagated. Most of the incarcerated individuals have found it difficult to adjust to the mainstream society; therefore, high numbers of recidivism are reported. The book defends flogging not as a better punishment, but as a better alternative to the current prison system by concluding that convicted individuals should be given an alternative for this option.

Peter Muskos is the author of the book, "In Defense of Flogging". He teaches sociology at Laguardia Community college, and at the City University of New York’s doctoral program. He is an assistant professor of Law, criminal justice administration and police science at Jay College of Criminal Justice.. Before getting into the academia world, Peter Muskos worked as a police officer, where he got into practical experience with the criminal justice and people’s view on punishment. He worked as a city police officer in Baltimore City. Peter Muskos also wrote a book titled, Cop in the Hood and published by Princeton University Press in the year 2008. 

Musko’s background as a former Baltimore City police officer and his experience in research and study of criminal justice supports his conviction that perhaps America should consider putting a mechanism in order to give the convicts an alternative of flogging for incarceration. He presents his view by use of satirical language that easily convicts the readers of how flogging may be a positive alternative to incarceration. The evils and challenges that prisoners face in the prisons are incomparable to the impacts of flogging. This is what comes out clearly from his book. His experience in the practical and academic fields of criminal justice makes his arguments exceptionally convincing as America battles with the challenges of its current prison system. 

Peter Mukos wrote this book in response to the crisis within the scope of the current prison system in the United States. The book shares policy recommendations to solve the current crisis. The main arguments about the U.S. criminal justice system are that the system needs to be adjusted in order to give the prisoners more alternatives to the incarceration punishment. In this regard, Muskos genuinely calls the policy makers of criminal justice to consider the reinstatement of flogging punishment not as a compulsory punishment, but as a voluntary alternative to incarceration. He argues that given these two alternatives, many would prefer flogging, regardless of the view that it is inhuman. He argues that considering the injustices within the prison walls, many of the convicts would prefer flogging, and this would solve some of the key challenges of the criminal justice system. 

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Peter Muskos opens up his argument by asking what alternative will be chosen in case a person is given two of them. He convinces those who hold the view that flogging is barbaric to reflect on the worse impacts of the prison system. In this context, he highlights the many challenges that the incarcerated individuals face within the U.S. prisons. He points out the many evils and violation of human rights and dignity that takes place within the criminal justice system of the U.S. Among those mentioned Muskos includes overcrowding, since the U.S. prisons record one of the highest numbers of prisoners in the world. He emphasizes the problem of mental health neglect, whereas most of the convicted individuals are left to suffer mentally for what they did. He also mentions issues of gang rape and homelessness after the incarceration period. In addition, he cites warehousing criminals as a crueler punishment to flogging. 

The scope of the U.S. prison system involves the challenges and evils that incarcerated prisoner faces, the failure of the prison system to cure crime, but promote crimes, and the failure of the released prisoners to cope in the free society. On the problems that prisoners face under the prison punishment system, he cites that the convicted criminals are often subjected to worse punishment than flogging. In this light, issues, such as gang rape, homosexuality, mental-health neglect and harassment, are worse alternatives to flogging. 

In addition, Muskos states that imprisonment of adults and children has little impact on correcting the individuals, but makes the people even more criminal instead. This is because prison often detaches the incarcerated individuals from their jobs, families, and life; thus, they cannot adapt to life after being released. Consequently, this situation often causes the released prisoners to engage in criminal activities in order to find livelihood when released. In addition, the life within prisons often changes the character and behavior of the prisoners; thus, some of them become cruel and violent when released to the society.

The prison system of the U.S. has considerably changed throughout the history of the United States. At first, the prison system was established as an alternative to keep the violent criminals who would not be allowed to live in the normal society. The American policies and the society of those times supported corrective punishment for the offender. This led to many of the criminal convicts being subjected to public flogging as a measure of punishment. In this regard, the prison system was developed to host the criminals who would not be allowed to live among other members of society. There was less emphasis on long-term imprisonment, since many convicts were given a probation. 

However, as the nineties came, reforming of the prisons contributed towards the emergence of numerous changes in the criminal justice system. These changes involved the construction of more prisons, along with changes in the law to oust public flogging which was deemed inhumane and replace it with the full-fledged prison system. This happened as the U.S. society became industrialized, and the forces of capitalism led to the increased numbers of crimes. The prisons got full, as more convicts were sentenced to prison; overcrowding was prevalent, and other prison injustices, including rapes, assaults and harassment, became popular. 

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According to Peter Muskos, the U.S. criminal justice is unique to the worse. He argues that the U.S. criminal justice system is the only system that runs under a penal code which is expensive and immoral. He also fronts the uniqueness of the criminal justice for the high numbers of criminals who are incarcerated every year at a seven times higher rate as compared to other nations with high population such as China; yet, the crime problem is rather evident within the country. High number of criminal activities takes place this day in the U.S., despite the fact that lots of criminals are locked within the prison walls. In this regard, most people have suffered from the prisons than have been helped out of the chains of criminal habits.

According to the author, the prison system in the USA has recorded a significant success in combating crimes within the country. He states this by citing an analysis of the people locked up in prison and crime rates. The author highlights that the period between1970 and 1990 saw a rapid rise in the number of crimes, since more than a million of people got to the prison. He argues that there may be little correlation between incarcerations and crime rates as a matter of fact. He further points out that the U.S. has locked up 2.3 million prisoners; this means the country has the highest number of prisoners than any country in the world, including China, which has a billion people more than the United States does. 

There are a number of economic benefits of the prison-industrial complex in the U.S. These include the complex allowing a significant amount of people in the U.S. to find employment. This system has employed a considerable percentage of the population, who are able to get income, raise families and build the economy. The complex also has allowed the prisoners to engage in works that add value to the economy. Incarcerated individuals are often encouraged to undertake various economic ventures while they are serving their terms. This has positive economic benefits to the nation. 

The author’s main conclusions are that flogging may not be as cruel as many think. Secondly, flogging should not be reinstated as a compulsory punishment, but the system should allow it as an alternative for convicts who would prefer it to incarceration. Thirdly, there are many failures in the current system which may not be understood, when individuals are asked to choose between a lash and prison sentence. He concluded that many prisoners when given this alternative would prefer the lash to serving a prison term. This signifies a lot in terms of the perception and real experiences that happen in prison.

This book should be recommended to students. This is because the author presents an unpopular view which involves social, ethical, and economic aspects of the issue. Not everyone believes that flogging can be a better option for the prison system; however, this book convinces readers to think otherwise. There are a lot of significant facts that can be derived from the content of this book. The first one is the statistic that the U.S. has more prisoners than China, which has a billion more people. Secondly, the satirical question of the author whether prison or lashes is better makes the reader to consider and even change the ordinary viewpoint on the issue. 

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