May 25, 2006

Little Justice

by PG

I've never found prison rape to be particularly funny, and after editing an article about the shortfalls of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, think that it's the ugliest symptom of an array of problems in the American system: overcrowding, lack of rehabilitation, cut ties with the outside world, etc. That said, I can recognize the irony of deeming a child molester to be too small and easily-victimized to go to prison. Milbarge has pointed out that "there are some cases approving sentencing departures because the defendant is unusually susceptible to prison violence or sexual assault."

Perhaps we need a penal alternative to prison. I'm not sure what that could be, as the 8th Amendment precludes many of the historic options like corporal punishment. Does anyone know if the stocks are considered corporal punishment, or otherwise are forbidden by the 8th? After so many years of disuse, it might fall afoul of the "unusual" provision, but if putting short people in prison is too cruel, we're going to have to get creative. As our standards of cruel and unusual have evolved, prison appears to have devolved into inhumanity, so that confinement with other offenders is tantamount to a sentence to be brutalized.

May 25, 2006 06:20 PM | TrackBack

The actual stocks might be considered too strict a restraint on liberty, since the convict basically cannot move. To achieve the same purpose of public humiliation, however, the state presumably could put the defendant in a David-Blaine style plexiglass box for a few hours at a time in some public square, with information displaying the convict's offense, for the purpose of shaming him. It would be a cross between city jail and those billboards of "johns'" faces that some communities have adopted to fight prostitution.

Posted by: Tom T. at May 26, 2006 08:08 AM
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