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Judicial CP - April 1994

Corpun file 4907


Los Angeles Times, Orange County Edition, 3 April 1994

Sore Subject: Does Caning Hurt Juvenile or Society More?

By Dana Parsons

We had a math teacher in eighth grade who could best be described as a no-nonsense kind of guy. While he was explaining something to us on the first day of school, the class clown cracked wise.

Without saying a word, the teacher walked over to the clown's desk and asked for his textbook. Upon receiving it, the teacher stepped behind the student and delivered a forceful two-hand backhand to the back of his head.

Thus ended a budding career of a class clown.

That reminiscence comes to mind in light of the controversy over the imminent "caning" of an 18-year-old American in custody in Singapore. The young man went on a spray-painting jag and has been sentenced to a flogging. He will receive six blows from a moistened rattan cane. A news story said recipients often go into shock after the third stroke and are usually left with permanent scars. Previous stories have said there is very little graffiti in Singapore.

I've heard a lot of people taking guilty pleasure over the young man's fate. So frustrated is the American public over rampant crime that many people seem willing to consider just about anything. Caning? Hey, why not?

I asked a Juvenile Court judge about that, starting off with the presumption that, despite our government's formal request for leniency for the young man, lots of Americans might be silently applauding the Singapore justice system.

"It does have a threshold attraction to us all," the judge said, who asked not to be identified. "We all are frustrated about graffiti and juvenile pranks and delinquency and all that goes with it. And we all know that we must have accountability in our system and that we feel it is just slipping away from us.

"I guess people have always felt that way but, legitimately, it's more that way now. So we find it attractive to have prompt meaningful punishment on people who spray graffiti or (do things like) pickpocket or shoplift."

I knew there was a "but" coming. "It has an initial attraction and I share that," the judge said, "and so does everyone else, I suspect. On the other hand, life just isn't that uncomplicated. I believe parents should have a right to spank their children, and I think most people think that. . . . But do you want other people to spank your child? And that gets into the problem of, when do you spank them? How often? How hard? With a belt or with a hairbrush?"

As for caning? "Effective? Well, probably," the judge said, "but it's the kind of thing that crosses the line. Our system of justice -- and you can go back to the common law as it developed from England -- recoils from it."

Constitutionally speaking, caning probably would be banned as "cruel and unusual."

I cited the corporal punishment that I remember from my school days. At that same junior high, teachers had a wooden paddle that was used on wayward students.

"We must have accountability," the judge said. "If you're going to school, what discipline tools do they have? Suspension? Everyone knows they (students) have to continue to go to school, so there isn't much teeth in that. And we're taking away the ability to discipline."

The judge said he doesn't necessarily object, for example, to having a principal paddle or spank a child if a parent is present. Or, to bring a parent to school to administer the punishment.

"The word caning offends me," the judge said. "That is excessive on every day of the week, but some form of switch or (corporal punishment) by hand, depending on how old the person is, I think is something we could explore. The problem is in keeping it from going to excess."

Caning probably has won plaudits in America because we can distance ourselves from it. Singapore officials can satisfy our primal instinct by meting out punishment, while allowing us to ease our consciences because we weren't the ones to administer it.

"The concept (of harsh punishment) is fine, but control is what causes the problem," the judge said. "The best government, practically speaking, would be a benevolent dictatorship. . . . The problem is to decide who's benevolent and who isn't."

I asked the judge to forget propriety for a moment and consider whether caning would deter juveniles.

"I think it would deter the individual person -- if it hurt and if they knew they would have that hurt visited upon them again if they were to (repeat the offense). And to the degree their classmates find out about it and look at the bruises, it may well have a deterrent effect. That's the positive part, and the negative part is that it's over the line. I think most of Western society has made that same decision."

It's probably best that we not put caning up to a vote in America these days. I know at least one retired junior high math teacher who would heartily endorse it.

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Copyright (c) 1994 Times Mirror Company

Corpun file 6390


The Straits Times, Singapore, 5 April 1994


Caning sentence against teenage vandal Michael Fay

Punishing offenders: Perhaps US can learn from Singapore


MICHAEL Fay, the American teenager sentenced to be caned for vandalism by Singapore's judicial system, is big enough and old enough to know better than to behave in such a manner.

Fay is a perfect example of many of today's American teenagers who are running amok without fear of punishment in the home, in school and in society at large for their acts of juvenile crime.

Teenage violence is a common as American apple pie. Here in New Orleans, the city most famous for jazz and Mardi Gras, it is not uncommon for teenagers to carry and use guns against their classmates in school.

Even teachers get guns pointed at them by teenagers who are angry because their teacher ordered them to do something they did not want to do, such as being assigned a different seat in class.

New Orleans schools, like all too many in America today, forbid the use of corporal punishment against misbehaving students.

In fact, most states provide criminal penalties against school teacher who dare to spank and/or paddle students for misconduct.

Moreover, American juvenile court judges are barred from imposing sentences of corporal punishment even for the most outrageous of juvenile crimes such as murder, armed robbery, rape and grievous assault with a knife or baseball bat.

Thus, Michael Fay is a product of an American society that deems itself so "enlightened" and "humane" that it refuses to correct and discipline its law-breaking and anti-social teenagers with the rod.

Instead, our society uses mental and psychiatric models of behaviour modification, which neither reduced the ever-increasing juvenile crime rate nor reformed those teenagers who, for the most part, have got "treatment" instead of punishment.

Hence Singapore's method of handling the Michael Fays of this world is the antithesis of America's cultural, judicial and social attitude towards crime and punishment of juvenile offenders.


But isn't the cane a cruel and unusual punishment for an American teenager? bewails the American media in tabloid television programmes and graphic pictures of caning designed to get the American public into a frenzy to save Fay's hide.

Of course it's cruel, we are told on national television by none other than President Bill Clinton, whose presidency is already in enough trouble over ethical and moral shenanigans to wonder why in heaven's name he should pontificate on Singapore's ethical and moral right to punish those who break the law.

Perhaps the cane is sorely needed in the White House, too.

As an Anglican priest and former British schoolmaster, I have encountered many teenagers just like Michael Fay, and especially since the decline or outlawing of corporal punishment in England and the United States.

It seems to me that American teenagers (having worked with them for almost 20 years) are innately prone to more violence, aggression and disrespect for authority than their British and Asian counterparts.

Another factor in the rise in teenager lawlessness in America has been the battle cry of protecting American teenagers from any kind of physical punishment under the guise of "physical child abuse" laws.

Indeed, even if a teenager gets spanked at home by his parents for misconduct, the parents can often be threatened with being labelled "child abusers" by the teenager himself and/or by government social workers.


So what we have is a case of many teenagers knowing all about their "rights", but knowing little or nothing about their responsibilities in the home, the school and society.


I support and applaud Singapore's punishment in ordering the caning of Michael Fay.

Perhaps it's time for America to copy such methods in dealing with teenage drug pushers and users, gun-toting kids, teenage thugs and teen arsonists who start with spray-painting cars and graduate to vandalism of our schools and even of our cemeteries.

Right Reverend Montgomery Griffith-Mair
New Orleans

Bishop Griffith-Mair is the presiding bishop of the National Anglican Church and co-bishop of the Anglican Rite Synod.


USA Today, 5 April 1994

Today's debate: CRIME & PUNISHMENT

Don't copy Singapore

OUR VIEW: Its brutal approach reminds us that in the fight against crime, it's easy to go too far

The hot political note to strike this year is to get tough on crime. You hear it in the state legislatures. You hear it in the White House. And you hear it in Congress, where a variety of crime bills would expand the death penalty and limit appeals.

Where will it lead? Lets hope nowhere near Singapore. That tiny Asian city-stale offers vivid proof that efforts to prevent and control crime can go way too far.

In that nation, law and order are reversed -- first order, then law. The price of security is a system of justice that is blood-flecked and bare-knuckled.

Michael Fay provides the evidence. An American student living in Singapore, he was convicted of vandalism, criminal mischief and possessing stolen property -- namely, some "No Smoking" signs. Fay pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months in prison, a $2,230 fine -- and six lashes of a soaked rattan cane, delivered full-force by a martial arts expert.

This is no small punishment. Recipients often faint by the third stroke. When they do, the caning is stopped until they are revived. Bits of flesh are said to fly with each strike, along with copious amounts of blood. The healing takes weeks; the scarring is forever.

There are international conventions against this sort of thing, but Singapore pays them no mind. Indeed, the tiny city-state, so proud of its civility, has progressively abandoned the foundations of justice. There are no jury trials. Suspects can be detained for years without charge. Suspects have no right to legal counsel.

There is a payoff of sorts. With a population of 2.8 million, Singapore had fewer than 60 murders last year and only 80 rapes. So the question is: Does Singapore teach anything about law enforcement and justice?

The answer is: Yes. The baneful punishment for petty crime is a reminder that we are, all of us, better off here despite high crime. In the United States, you cannot easily be punished at the whim of government. You cannot be tortured. You cannot be forced to testify against yourself.

Crime in the United States is a profound problem, and it seems to get worse with each new drive-by shooting and graffiti attack. It cannot be ignored. But Singapore reminds us that there are limits -- that we are right to rely on law to provide order rather than the other way around.

Caning and other crude punishments may satisfy some urge to wring the necks of troublemakers. But the Constitution that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment does so for a reason: to guard against government intimidation.

Imagine living without that protection. Imagine living in pretty, bloody Singapore.

Corpun file 2255

Bring back the birch

OPPOSING VIEW: We need harsher, swifter sentencing and more appropriate penalties for crimes

By Heather Stern Little

Singapore's government is to be applauded for refusing to reconsider Michael Peter Fay's sentence to six strokes of the cane for spray-painting cars there last September. Rather than condemn Singapore, we should consider following its lead.

The U.S. criminal justice system was founded on the concept that alleged criminals are "innocent until proven guilty"; even after conviction, we take extraordinary measures (at enormous cost) to rehabilitate offenders. Yet criminologists report close to 90% of those arrested for violent crimes have prior records. The message is clear: Our criminal justice system has little, if any, deterrent effect. The first 15 minutes of TV news on Easter Sunday showed no less than a half-dozen violent crimes against innocent victims. Many offenders commit heinous acts while awaiting trial or out on parole. More and more young people are found guilty of crimes against person and property, yet scarcely are slapped on the wrists. Their older counterparts routinely exit the revolving door of justice, marking months in jail as notches on their belts of bravado.

Fay's case is an ugly reminder that Americans need to rethink the value of a system commandeered by sociologists and bureaucrats. Across the country, an unorganized groundswell is lobbying for harsher, swifter sentencing and more appropriate penalties for violent crimes. Opponents cite the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which proscribes "cruel and unusual punishment." But what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment historically has been defined by community standards. Many states administered corporal punishment and other forms of public humiliation well into this century. A few legislatures recently have considered empowering their judges to "bring back the birch" in response to rising crime rates.

We must adjust our standards. At issue is what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment vs. whether or not the punishment fits the crime. Viewed in this context, Fay is reaping what he sowed. He committed childish, immature and destructive acts, for which caning is entirely appropriate.

Americans, denounce President Clinton's demeaning appeal for clemency. Heed the wake-up call. Misdeeds must be met with clear authority and punishment befitting the crime. And they must be met head-on, not merely deflected to become the problems of tomorrow's generation.

Heather Stern Little is a Chicago lawyer.

Copyright 1994, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co., Inc.

Corpun file 3691


The Washington Post, 5 April 1994

Six Lashes In Singapore

By Richard Cohen

Singapore is a weird place -- or, as some wag put it, a "fine" place. You can get fined for almost anything -- littering, chewing gum, not flushing a public toilet or having long hair. Still, America may be an even weirder place. It seems most Americans think Singapore's threatened flogging of an 18-year-old Ohio native for vandalism is just terrific.

Press cuttingYesterday morning I awoke to James Fallows, a commentator on the supposedly liberal National Public Radio, giving his reluctant approval to the sentence of six lashes to the buttocks. A call-in survey by the National Polling Network (23,000 callers) found 53 per cent thought some good whipping would do wonders in America -- but not, you can be sure, to anyone they know.

The Singapore Embassy here says it has gotten little but approval from Americans, and in Dayton, Ohio, home town to the unlucky youth, the Dayton Daily News reports "a significant number of calls expressing support," according to Max Jennings, the editor. Almost predictably, the Clinton administration seems to have moderated its indignation. Once the president himself called the sentence "excessive" and hinted at dire consequences, but the administration now prefers to say nothing much. "We'll see how it plays out," was the latest ultimatum I heard from a White House spokesman.

Of course, this controversy is not about Singapore at all but about America. The scrutable Singaporeans clearly took the pulse of American public opinion when the government said it did not want its city-state to become another New York. "We do not have a situation where acts of vandalism are commonplace, as in cities like New York, where even police cars are not spared the acts of vandals," the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement. It was talking, of course, to countless millions of Americans who have actually seen New York or think they have in movies and television shows. A person could conclude that half the population there is up at night spray-painting the place.

Would truly harsh penalties turn New York into a Disney World with skyscrapers? Indeed, would these sorts of punishments reduce crime in the United States? Those, essentially, are the questions Americans are asking themselves -- and many of them, it seems, are answering in the affirmative. That's understandable. Certain felonies may as well be called misdemeanors because they are so rarely punished. Auto theft is one -- and so, too often, is any "serious" crime as long as it is a first offense. As for misdemeanors such as defacing property, the last person caught for that -- never mind punished -- undoubtedly wrote his name (and Social Security number) on a police station wall.

The law is clearly up against it. Without punishment, there can be no deterrence. If a teenager has no money, he cannot be fined. If the jails are full of hardened criminals, he cannot be imprisoned. If he has no real prospects, he will not care if he has a record. If he thinks he has nothing to gain, then he thinks he has nothing to lose. He cannot be hurt -- unless he can be physically hurt, as is done in Singapore. Is Singapore on to something?

Not really. In the first place, there's no likening an Asian society on the tip of the Malay peninsula to America. Our societal problems, our racial difficulties and our cultural differences have to be taken into account. Singapore is not a boot camp for civilians merely because it has tough rules but also because it's a different society. In plenty of places in the world, you can walk poor neighborhoods with a bulging wallet and not be mugged -- and harsh laws have nothing to do with it.

Second, the punishment facing the 18-year-old American, Michael Fay, amounts to torture. The six strokes to the buttocks are inflicted with a half-inch rattan cane and administered by a martial arts expert. The pain is so great that many prisoners go into shock before the whipping is completed, and physical scars always remain. Can anyone not think that one lash is more than enough, that the $2,300 fine would have sufficed or that, when you think about it, justice would have been served if Fay were merely given the boot -- sent back to Dayton and forced to live among the yahoos who favored the whole nine yards. Smug Singapore (Smugapore?), contemptuous of supposed American softness, has chosen the most obnoxious course.

But instead of Americans protesting the flogging of one of their own, they have let fear of crime prompt them to embrace barbarism -- as if the caning of Fay will make things safer in American cities. The young man should be punished -- his vandalism streak was no spur-of-the-moment impulse but was conducted over the course of 10 days. But what our own Constitution would prohibit as "cruel and unusual punishment" is hardly something we should endorse. Flogging may not be "unusual" in Singapore, but "cruel" it most certainly is -- crueler still for a young man who seems to have been abandoned by his own countrymen.

The Baltimore Sun, 14 April 1994

Sun line flooded by calls in support of flogging

By Lisa Respers
Contributing Writer

Baltimore Sun readers yesterday responded overwhelmingly in favor of the possible caning of 18-year-old Michael P. Fay, an American teen-ager who pleaded guilty to vandalizing cars in Singapore.

With comments such as, "I'm 100 percent behind Singapore," and, "They should get that kid," callers flooded the phone lines of The Sun's Sundial system to voice their support of Mr. Fay's receiving six lashes from a rattan cane.

About 1,600 responses were recorded by the telephone information system before an announcement saying calls were no longer needed was placed on the system later yesterday afternoon. Another 300 calls came in yesterday evening despite the announcement.

Although some readers voiced concern for the young man and a criticism of the punishment itself, a heavy majority said they favored the caning.

"I think not only should they flog him, but it ought to be on CNN," said Lou Jordan of Essex. "I think it ought to be piped into all of the prisons where our prisoners are sitting there doing nothing but watching TV, playing cards and having dope and doing whatever they want to do."

Mr. Jordan is a former health care professional who said that he saw nothing cruel about the punishment, which experts say will probably cause permanent scarring.

"If they had caught him stealing in some of the other countries they would have cut off his hand," he said. "I'm sorry that he won't be able to wear his scars on the outside."

Many of the callers took the opportunity to express their anger at the United States' justice system.

"If the young fellow broke a law over here, we would have patted him on the hand and said 'naughty, naughty, don't do it again,'" said William Harrington of Crownsville. "Over there, they take a stricter view, and they are correct. Maybe we should institute flogging or caning."

Helen Waldron of Ellicott City agreed.

"I think the United States should have stricter laws against juveniles," Mrs. Waldron said. "You have gangs of fatherless boys roaming the streets doing nothing but robbing and shooting and causing complete chaos."

Sid Finkelstein theorized that the American public is fed up with crime.

"People are just tired," said Mr. Finkelstein, a Lochearn resident. "We [he and his wife] are old enough to remember when flogging was used at the Baltimore penitentiary for wife beaters, and it seemed to be effective then."

"If we would start punishing criminals for what they do instead of letting them go and feeding them and putting in pool tables and everything in jails, we'd have less crime," said Ron Steen of Pasadena.

Baltimore resident Richard Messick first called to say that the supported the caning but called later to amend his comments.

"The fact that so many Americans think he deserves to be flogged frightens me," he said. "This whole case seems to be nothing but a barometer of the impotence Americans feel in the face of crime in this country.

"While something drastic needs to be done here to curtail the spread of violence, I don't think flogging is the answer."

Sarah Crites of Essex expressed concern for Mr. Fay.

"This is terrible, and I think it should be stopped," she said. "I mean, they are going to flog a kid for spray painting a car?

"I spanked my kids for doing stuff like throwing furniture out of the upstairs window, but this is terrible," she added.

"Flogging is just sadistic," said Eric Tolmach of Mount Airy. "There are many other ways of making the boy pay his debt without resorting to physical cruelty."

Corpun file 2638

The Houston Post, Texas, 20 April 1994

Sound-Off ... Letters to the Editor

The Caning

ONE THING for sure, whether Michael Fay gets caned or not, he will make a fortune appearing on the numerous minus-IQ TV shows when he's able to sit down.

Avis Barrett

It would make a more dramatic showing if the networks could get him on before he can sit - and show why. - Editor.

I ASKED my 16-year-old high school junior student, "What do you think of the caning of Michael Fay?"

The reply was: "Who's Michael Fay? What's caning?"

Obviously, the message is not reaching our children.

A.M. Paramore

CANING as a deterrent to crime would not work in America any more than does the promise of incarceration.

Scars from bullets and knives are carried as badges of honor, as would be those from caning, among those whose respect for other people is nonexistent.

The same holds true for many of those with a record of "time served." Having "done time" is considered prestigious by people who would think otherwise had they been raised to believe in the values of life and liberty that our present Constitution endorses.

To clarify my position, I support the caning - with a cringe - imprisonment and capital punishment, but none of them will reduce crime.

Only a well-taught and exemplified set of values can do that, as is proven in Asia, where people show respect for each other's freedoms, however limited they may be.

It's not merely the threat of barbaric punishment that maintains law and order in Singapore. It's the people's formal upbringing.

Mark T. Black

J. CHARLES Whitfield (S-O April 14) said Michael Fay has done no more than three out of four teen-agers in this country in the past few years. He's right.

What he is missing is that Michael Fay was not in this country. Everyone must learn to abide by the rules in whatever country they visit, or suffer the consequences.

Perhaps if we had a little corporal punishment, our streets might be cleaner and safer.

Irene Traner


The Straits Times, Singapore, 21 April 1994

Bring back caning in US

By Ed Koch

NEW YORK -- The caning sentence in Singapore for a young American convicted of vandalism has ignited an emotional debate about the deteriorating state of law and order in our own society.

Caning was legal in the United States until it was ruled unconstitutional in 1948. I think we should amend the Constitution and bring back caning to help restore order to our streets.

The caning I have in mind does not necessarily have to be the Singapore type, administered brutally to the point of physical shock. It could be a more severe version of the belt-lashing my father used to give me. But I believe it would be salutary, and I am not alone in my views.

Recently, every time I go out on speaking engagements around the country, I poll my audience by asking this question. If you knew that by caning every convicted drug dealer, it would vastly reduce drug dealing and recidivism, would you support the reintroduction of caning? Overwhelmingly and consistently, people, including liberals, said yes by something like a 98-2 margin.

People in America are fed up that crime and recidivism -- 50 per cent of criminals in New York state are repeat offenders -- continue to mount, no matter how many people get sent to jail.

Yet, there is no other adequate form of punishment available but the death penalty, which applies, as it should, to only a very small, limited number of crimes.

Clearly, we need some form of punishment between death and ineffectual jail sentences. From my experience as mayor of New York, I know that judges are less and less prone to send people to jail for anything other than crimes of violence. They say we must save the overcrowded jail space for the more violent offenders, or that prisons turn juveniles into adept criminals.

Well, let us do the right thing and give the justice system another option. I have little doubt that the fear of being caned would deter people from engaging in the kinds of crimes they do now with impunity.

In a recent interview, Singapore's elder statesman, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, pointed out deeper causes for the deterioration of social order in America, and I absolutely agree with his views.

He said civil society has broken down in America for two related reasons: Because the freedom of the individual has become so inviolable as to be elevated to a "dogma" at the expense of society and because the family has fallen apart in all too many cases. This has led, he said, "to the erosion of the moral underpinning of (American) society and the diminution of personal responsibility."

To be sure, the individual has rights which must be defended fiercely. But the rights of society must be paramount.

I agree with Mr Lee when he says that the belief that society would flourish if everyone was allowed to do their own thing has turned out to be wrong and contrary to human nature.

The breakdown of the family in America is not a fact just in minority communities. It is a fact across the board. If the parent is not there to discipline the children when they do something wrong, by default it must be done by the state as society's protector.

Part of the arch-left philosophy is the idea that children from broken families must be understood as victims. Here I also agree with Mr Lee in some of his remarks. Being a "victim of society" is no excuse. If you do something wrong, you should be punished. Personal responsibility is a demand on our fellow citizens that must be restored in American society.

I agree wholeheartedly with British Prime Minister John Major, who said concerning the two 10 year olds accused of kidnapping and murdering a toddler: "I feel strongly that society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less."

Of course, the state cannot put the family back together. But it does not have to be an accomplice by refusing to teach values in the public schools. There has been much debate about this because people somehow think you cannot teach values without teaching religion.

Values transcend religion. To teach that "Thou shall not kill" or "Thou shall not steal" does not mean you have to teach the Ten Commandments as given to Moses.

To teach love and respect for your parents is not teaching Confucianism; it is teaching values.

I am not advocating that America becomes an authoritarian Singapore. I am saying there are alternatives within the beloved Constitution to cope with the completely out-of-control criminality that makes us fear for our lives in our own neighbourhoods.

The kind of sympathy being shown in America for common sense in Singapore indicates that our troubled society has arrived at a turning point. The average American knows that we must balance the interests of society and the individual.

That balance has gotten out of whack and must return to some kind of equilibrium.

Once-scorned aphorisms of the past such as "Spare the rod and spoil the child" are ringing true again. The things we once learned at our mother's knee will be embraced once more.

The writer, who was the mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989, contributed this article to Global Viewpoint.

Corpun file 22917

The Baltimore Sun, 26 April 1994

Baltimore Glimpses

When whippings were in style

By Gilbert Sandler

UNLESS the government of Singapore relents and changes its mind, 18-year-old Michael Fay will soon suffer a flogging of six strokes with a moistened rattan cane administered by a martial arts expert. Mr. Fay has confessed to vandalizing cars and spray-painting walls in Singapore (though his supporters have questioned whether the confession was coerced). Many Americans believe the punishment is excessive, cruel and unusual, and that it amounts to a form of torture. Still other Americans, outraged over crime in this country, feel that Mr. Fay is getting what he deserves.

The controversy over Mr. Fay's punishment is a reminder that Baltimore once flogged convicted criminals. In 1926, James H. Kingsmore was sentenced to five lashes with a cat-o'-nine-tails for wife-beating. The cat-o'-nine-tails, a whip made of nine knotted cords attached to a handle used for flogging, was so called because the scars it left on its victim's body resembled the scratches of a cat. The whipping was ordered by Judge Eugene O'Dunne and administered by Sheriff John F. Potee.

Sheriff Potee, it turns out, was part sheriff and part showman, and he chose the main corridor of the City Jail to carry out the sentence. He handed out hundreds of cards of admission to the flogging, which became a public spectacle.

As camera flashbulbs popped the prisoner, handcuffed and stripped to the waist, was led into the noisy, crowded corridor. At one point he turned to a guard and complained, "I don't mind taking my medicine, but I don't think you should make a circus out of it."

But circus it was, and the press had a field day. The next day a grisly picture of Kingsmore, tied spread-eageled with the cat-o'-nine-tails lying beside his bare back, appeared in The Sun. Judge O'Dunne was furious at what he described as "the vulgarity of such journalism."

In 1931 Judge O'Dunne ordered wife-beater Charles Lamley to the whipping post, but this time issued a warning to the press: "The orderly processes of the court are being daily subjected to the undesirable publicity of a low order of pictorial display in certain publications. They are offensive to the administration of justice."

With that, he forbade the newspapers to take pictures.

In 1938, Clyde Miller was given 20 lashes by Judge Abner J. Saylor. By this time the press had forgotten its previous restraint and went completely tabloid. "Miller sags at knees, stays conscious as 6-foot sheriff wields whip," screamed the headlines.

The Jail Board, livid with anger, passed a regulation stipulating the future press coverage of whippings be limited to two reporters from each local newspaper. "No cameras will be allowed," it ruled.

The last flogging in Baltimore occurred on March 21, 1939, when Judge Emory Niles ordered Sheriff Joseph Deegan to give Louis Woolschlager five lashes for wife-beating.

The press coverage at Woolschlager's whipping ran only four inches and was buried in the back pages of the newspaper. There were no pictures.

Flogging, or "whipping," as it was called in the legislation abolishing it, finally came to an end in Baltimore in 1953. It was termed "not now necessary."

In Glimpses' humble view it shouldn't ever have been "necessary," and it certainly isn't now.

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