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Prison CP - March 1988

Corpun file 7097

The Houston Post, Texas, 23 March 1988

Why is it that we can paddle pupils but not prisoners?

By Douglas Freelander

Inflicting pain is an acknowledged inducement to good behavior and it beats me why teachers are allowed to paddle youngsters while prison officials must by law coddle the most hardened inmates in the Texas Department of Corrections.

There are adults in the 38,700-inmate system whose only deterrent from attacking other guards and prisoners would be the fear of pain. Personally, I was afraid of being a bad boy decades ago because there'd be a hefty spanking if I misbehaved. Weekly deprivals of my allowance did absolutely no good at all.

The deprivation of such inmate "rights" as commissary privileges and television for brief periods must be causing the most hardened criminals to snicker at new policies imposed by the court of William Wayne Justice in the long-standing Ruiz prison reform lawsuit.

It's appalling that when a guard becomes so incensed by having a prisoner throw urine at him, he is strongly disciplined for tossing a cup of water on the inmate - a rather mild form of retaliation. If the guard could knock the right heads around, having human waste thrown at him might well become just another nasty memory.

One reason why I'm not in jail today and never have been probably stems from spankings. My late father, bless his soul, was proficient at corporal punishment.

Such punishments stopped at the age of 12 or 13. My father just happened to be away when my mother caught me with the proverbial hand in the cookie jar.

She gave me the choice of being spanked or forfeiting my allowance. I chose a spanking, knowing she wouldn't dare. She just broke down and cried. Her little brat grew up, and has been on a kind of honor system ever since.

Many a kid has benefited by a good paddling from his teacher. It hurt, and the child remembered it. Why hardened criminals should be so fortunate is mystifying.

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