Book Review: In Defense of Flogging

In Defense of Flogging

By Peter Moskos


Though its title suggests a Swiftian satire, this book by criminal justice professor Peter Moskos is a genuine call to reinstate flogging as a voluntary alternative to incarceration. The author, a former Baltimore police officer, opens with a simple query: “Which would you choose?” For those who consider flogging barbaric, he cites prison overcrowding, mental-health neglect, gang rape, and post-incarceration homelessness. Warehousing criminals is far crueler, Moskos insists. Why not lock up the most-hardened cases and let the rest tend to their damaged hinds and get on with their lives? If our penal system remains “an expensive and immoral failure,” he writes, “then bring on the lash.”