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In Defense of Flogging Paperback – February 5, 2013
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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 eitherbut Moskos makes it an intriguing, if unsettling, experience.”
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.”
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.”
Moskos’s argument is unconventional and convincing. Those interested in prison reform will find much to contemplate here.”
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.”
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.”
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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Top Customer Reviews
We owe Professor Moskos our thanks for opening the debate that's sure to follow. Readers cannot fully appreciate this book unless they realize what an economic and social disaster we have in American mass incarceration, a topic concerning conservatives, libertarians and liberals. The questions raised and logical arguments made in this book start eroding our misplaced acceptance of the status quo. Rather than merely complain about the prison system, this book proposes a solution and is personable and easy to read.
The book also considers the 7.3 million Americans in the entire correctional population, including those on probation and parole. We are supposed to be the Land of the Free.Read more ›
Well, to put matters straight, this book isn't about flogging children. Nor does it have anything at all to do with sexual deviancy (in case anyone is hoping that it does.) Rather, the author -- a former cop and now a professor -- crafted his opus as a semi-serious way to draw attention to his real concern: the fact that not only do prisons not work and cost us a tremendous amount of money, they actually damage society by rendering inmates (most of whom will eventually be released) insane, unemployable and criminal for life. Why, not he suggests (somewhat tongue in cheek) offer convicted people bound for prison the option to exchange their prison sentence for a specified ratio of, say, 1 lash for every two years of jail time? He's not suggesting cutting serial killers or terrorists loose, but thinks something needs to be done to address less dangerous offenders and rein in what is already the highest rate of incarceration in the world (five times the global average, far higher than in Iran or China, and higher even than Russia).Read more ›
The author starts the book by asking which the reader would take if he had the choice forced upon him--ten very harsh strokes with a cane as used in a few countries or five years in prison. He asks if the reader chose the rather brief period of extreme pain why should flogging be considered "cruel and unusual punishment" and denied to others; under his proposal, flogging would only be used when a convicted person elected it over conventional imprisonment. The title of the book is exactly correct; the author is open to discussion of other ways to punish than that presently used in Western society. The author properly, in my opinion, limiting the choices to a "do/don't go to jail" with the single variable of length of time is bad social policy for all concerned. Further, he makes some virtually brilliant suggestions as to financial compensation being suddenly available for victims of crimes who would otherwise have little chance of restitution.
This is a book that makes an excellent, if controversial, point. It is also a rather short book. It is an excellent read for anybody.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Last week I had jury duty. I never got picked to be on a jury so I spent the week sitting around for hours with a lot of other potential jurors. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
One of the most engaging books I have read on prisons, punishment and crime policy. A great way to get students to think about social, moral and philosophical issues related to... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Joel Rosch
It is apparent to most people that our criminal justice system is hopelessly dysfunctional. A civilization needs some way of punishing or occasionally removing citizens who become... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Ryan Costa
I'd like to re-introduce American society to corporal punishment -- especially bankers. The author lays out a proposal that would save society a lot of money warehousing people... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Mark D. Rockman
I've read a bunch of books on prison reform. After awhile, they all sort of start to sound the same; most of them are painfully boring and overly-academic. Read morePublished on December 18, 2013 by David Dantzler
I'm not sure I agree with all the author argues, but I think this is a very thought-provoking book. I read it because it had been used as a common reading selection at a university... Read morePublished on December 6, 2013 by Lee Farrow
The American criminal justice system is broken. It is inefficient (lengthy delays), it is expensive (most defendants cannot afford private criminal defense lawyers, leaving public... Read morePublished on May 30, 2013 by El Jefe