Jeff Jacoby's Bring Back Flogging

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Jeff Jacoby's Bring Back Flogging

This essay by Jeff Jacoby illustrates an authors use of ironic sarcasm otherwise known as satire to defend and illustrate his platform on his position. Jacoby uses in this essay verbal irony (persuasion in the form of ridicule). In the irony of this sort there is a contrast between what is said and what is meant.

Jacoby’s claim in simple is he believes that flogging should be brought back to replace the more standard conventional method of the imprisonment of violent and non-violent offenders. His grounds for the revival of flogging stems back to his initial mention of the Puritan punishment system. He cites how in 1632 Richard Hopkins was Flogged and branded for selling guns and weapons to the Indians, how Joseph Gatchell in 1684 convicted of blasphemy, had his tongue pierced with a hot iron, and finally in 1694 Hannah Newell and her consort were lashed for adultery. He concludes that the corporal punishment system did not vanish with the puritans, Deleware did not get around to repealing it till 1972. Jacoby’s sarcasm can be noted by the way he illustrates the punishment of various acts. He notes in a list that killers, drug dealers, and other acts ultimately end up in prison. Prison he says seems to be the all purpose, all in one punishment. His statistical evidence is that of the startling 1.6 million Americans behind bars today. This represents a 250% increase since 1980. According to him we cage individuals at an alarming rate despite the general consensus of the criminal system being a failure. He cites the information of Princeton criminologist John DiIlulio that about three out of four felons are released early or not locked up at all. Many of them are on the streets without meaningful parole or supervision. And while many believe that amateur thugs should be deterred before they become career criminals, it is almost unheard of for judges to send first or second time offenders to jail. Jacoby then goes on to ridicule our current penal system by estimating the cost to cage criminals at about thirty thousand per inmate per year. Jacoby believes that prison is a graduate school of criminal studies, that they emerge more ruthless and savvy then when they entered. Also for many of them, prison is a sign of manhood or even a status symbol. In 1994 the Globe reported that more than two hundred thousand pr...

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...violent offenders as it may teach them that the way to let out dissatisfaction is by physically abusing others. Allowing corporal punishment may open the door to other brutal and torturous methods of criminal control which may inevitably lead to violation of ones rights.

Jacoby does pose some promising insight to flogging as an alternative method of punishment compared to incarceration. Such as the monetary aspects which can be put forth into a preventive program. Public fear of committing petty crimes, which would result in public whippings exceeding the cost reward benefit. Even the reduced risk of prison rape especially for non violent offenders.

In a final analysis of the pros and cons of Corporal punishment, it seems that the present penal system until further studies on the alternative are conclusive, should remain in effect. Corporal punishment does provide some insight, although presents too many risks and negative possibilities at this time.


1. Jacoby, Jeff Bring Back Flogging, Boston Globe Feb. 20 1997.

2. Sylvan Barnet, Hugo Bedau, A philosophers view : The Toulmin Model Current Issues and Enduring questions pg 251 Bedford St Martins 1999.
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