Physical Punishment for Criminals: Justifiable or Abominable?

THE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE for punishing criminals had been a practice since the ancient times; it involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offense or for disciplining the wrongdoer by using a whip or birch to hit the buttocks, back of the thighs and calves, upper back and shoulders, soles of the feet, the hands and even the head, depending on the severity of the offense or crime.
          The purpose of corporal punishment is to prevent the offense or wrongdoing from happening again by instilling or associating fear with these undesired acts. 
             Countries such as Nigeria, Malaysia, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and Singapore have retained on using flogging or whipping as a punishment long after the other countries declared it as a violation of human rights.
Possible reasons for believing that it is justifiable:
1. It is a quick and effective method and less cruel than long-term imprisonment. It involves easier reintegration in society (generally, physical wounds heal quickly, while prison may adversely affect relationships and job prospects), greater deterrence rates, less recidivism, and fewer costs to society.
2. Physical punishment in official settings such as prisons has typically been carried out as a formal ceremony, with a standard procedure, emphasizing the solemnity of the occasion. It may even be staged in a ritual manner in front of other inmates, in order to act as a deterrent to others. Like all forms of punishment, flogging and whipping can and should be subject to regulation. For example, caning is confined generally to young males between 16 and 50, with a maximum number of 24 strokes which must be administered all at once.
3. Physical punishment is a useful deterrent against prisoners breaking prison rules. Since their freedom is already gone and their date of release may seem distant (or non-existent), there is very little else with which to maintain order.
4. It is effective. For example, Singapore has fewer crime rates compared to US.

Possible reasons for believing that it is abominable:
1. Punishing with pain is barbaric, a throwback to societies built on military might, slavery and the treatment of criminals as humans without any rights. The mark of civilised society is that it behaves better than its criminals. Prison is necessary as a method of punishment, prevention and rehabilitation, but it does not stoop to cruelty; which is why the UN Declaration of Human Rights forbids torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
2. Any regulation tends to be arbitrary and allow abuse. No country that uses physical punishment has demonstrated a responsibility that is acceptable to human rights watchdogs.
3. There are always alternative punishments that can be used in prison: solitary confinement, the removal of privileges, extension of sentence and so on. Mistreatment of prisoners is particularly open to excessive abuse from prison supervisors who seek to maintain order through a climate of fear.
4. Societies with a collective mentality need less strict punishment laws than societies without; the USA doesn’t have more crime than Singapore because of the lack of physical punishment but precisely because of the lack of a behavioural norm. When the USA allowed the use of physical punishment in the past, there was still plenty of crime.

The contributors are taking up Pre-Law course in a premier university in the Philippines:
Karen Rizel B. Abella graduated from Obando Central School and Valenzuela City Science High School
Camille M. Amparo is an alumna of  Bulala Fugu Elementary School and Camalaniugan National Highschool
Kathleen Kaye C. Dial is a graduate of San Marcelino Elementary School and San Guillermo National High School
Crystal Gayle B. Nacua is from Casa Del Niño Montessori School and St. Vincent School Foundation
Niña Stephanie I. Silvosa is from the Science Classes of Tandag Pilot Elementary School and Jacinto P. Elpa National Highschool

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