Corpun file 24341 at www.corpun.com
Flathead Beacon, Kalispell, Montana, 30 January 2013
Columbia Falls Lawmaker Offers Pain Instead of Prison
Republican Rep. Jerry O'Neil is drafting the bill
By Matt Gouras
Click to enlarge
HELENA -- A Montana lawmaker says convicts should be allowed
to get out of prison time if they instead agree to the
"infliction of physical pain" -- an idea that so far is
receiving a cool reception.
Republican Rep. Jerry O'Neil is drafting a bill that would allow
those convicted of misdemeanors or felonies to negotiate corporal
punishment instead of another sentence. The method used to
inflict the pain would be decided by a judge.
The veteran lawmaker said Wednesday that he thinks long prison
sentences are inhumane.
"Ten years in prison or you could take 20 lashes, perhaps
two lashes a year? What would you choose?" O'Neil said.
He argued that the convict under his proposal could remain
employed to pay restitution, and potentially save the corrections
budget millions of dollars per year.
"It is actually more moral than we do now," O'Neil said
of the lashings. "I think it's immoral to put someone in
prison for a long time, to take them away from their family, and
force that family to go on welfare."
The conservative Columbia Falls lawmaker made headlines earlier
this session by seeking to get paid in gold and silver coins
because he is skeptical about the future of the dollar.
His latest proposal isn't receiving a warm welcome. The House
speaker's office noted that O'Neil bill was tied up in lengthy
legal review and faces several hurdles.
"It's a citizen legislature and folks get to carry the bills
they like on their own," said House Speaker Mark Blasdel, a
restaurant owner from Somers.
House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter of Helena was speechless over
a bill he said looks like it comes out of the 17th century.
"Wow," said Hunter.
The Montana ACLU, opposed to physical pain and corporal
punishment, sympathized with the effort to reduce prison
"We agree with Rep. O'Neil that our state needs to find
alternatives to over-incarceration and lengthy jail and prison
sentences that are ineffective and costly, but we don't agree
that corporal punishment is the solution," said Niki
Zupanic, the group's public policy director.
"We support reducing sentences and increasing our investment
in community corrections alternatives. We need to put more and
better options on the table, but corporal punishment is not one
© 2013 Flathead Beacon, All Rights Reserved.
About this website
Search this site
Country files: Judicial CP in USA
Archive 2013: US corporal punishment