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Prison CP - September 1899

Corpun file 24886 at

The Record-Union, Sacramento, California, 17 September 1899, p.2

Spanking Offenders.

Press cutting

Those people whose indignation and sense of manliness have led them to favor the whipping post for wife beaters, should be able to concur with Warden Hoyt of Colorado who holds that spanking convicts who are unruly has a most salutary influence. The principle involved in each case is the same. It is intended equally by the use of the lash and the spanking paddle, to teach the offender that society regards him as low in the manly scale and deserving such punishment for his offending as is usually reserved for the dumb beast, the slave and the despicable.

That the paddle is effective and at the same time humane, Warden Hoyt proposes to show to the Congress of Penologists soon to assemble. The official will advocate the use of the "spanking chair" in all prisons, for punishment of refractory prisoners. It is in use in the Colorado Penitentiary and with such success that the Warden is anxious to have it introduced into other prisons.

The spanking is done with a paddle two feet long, three inches wide and three-quarters of an inch thick. When well applied it is a very serious matter for the thought of the victim. The claim made for its use is that it is more humane than to place an offender in solitary confinement, to reduce his rations to near the starvation point, or to compel him to do excessive hard labor. These punishments, as well as that of compelling the convict to drag about a heavy ball and chain, not only reduce his health condition to a level that may land him in the hospital, but they make a sort of hero or martyr of the man in the eyes of his fellows.

But the convict who is spanked is the subject of ridicule and the scorn of all with whom he comes into contact. On this subject Mr. Hoyt says:

Consider this same man under a different mode of punishment for the same offense. He is taken from his work but a short time, and his punishment is not of a nature that pits his will and endurance against that of his keepers. It is simple and surrounded with no halo of romance. There is no heroism about it. His comrades naturally think he is a "chump" for running up against the hard, matter-of-fact side of a paddle, and with nothing gained in the end -- nothing to brag over, nothing to be praised for.

In a few moments it is over and done with and the "refractory" is back at his work. He has had no time to brood or to store away morbid, bitter thoughts, and he is injured neither mentally nor physically. Of course, he is mortified -- but that is good for him and he will remember it, to the benefit of himself and the good discipline of the institution.

The Warden says that very seldom is there necessity for a second application of the spanking machine. Once is enough for the mass of those to whom it is necessary to apply it. But in the history of the dark cell and bread and water systems of punishment, it is recorded that application of the penalties have to be made over and over again; sometimes have to be continued indefinitely and sometimes as long as life remains in the convict's body.

Really, while the laws as they stand prevent the application of either lash or paddle to the men who beat their wives, we are disposed to think that it might be a wise step to modify the laws to such extent as to permit of the very vigorous use of the spanking chair in the case of wife beaters. Offenders thus punished would find that there was no heroism in it, and that the humiliation, disgrace and shame exceed any other possible punishment that can be inflicted, and hence its threat would have a deterrent influence, one so potent that it would be remembered even by men in their cups, those who fill themselves up with liquor for the express purpose of drumming up courage to beat helpless women.

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