In the essay “Bring Back Flogging,” the author Jeff Jacoby discusses the flaws of imprisonment, today’s punishment for criminals. Published in the Boston Globe in 1997, the essay’s purpose was not only to address the problems of locking up criminals, but also to suggest a hypothetical solution or alternative to a prison sentence. In order to completely understand Jacoby’s essay, “Bringing Back Flogging,” it is essential to analyze his thesis, purpose, methods or strategies, and persona beforehand
Jacoby’s thesis is implied rather that explicit. He uses examples throughout his essay to imply that adopting the punishment Puritans used almost four-hundred years ago, flogging; meaning, being whipped or beaten, would be cheaper and more effective that putting criminals behind bars. “A humiliating and painful paddling can be applied to the rear..for a lot less than $30,000 [the price it costs per inmate each year] and prove a lot more than ten years’ worth of prison meals and lockdowns,” is one of the examples Jacoby uses to support his implied thesis. He also states in his very last paragraph, “Maybe we should Adopt a few,” referring to the humiliating sanctions the Puritans has back in the 1600’s.
Jacoby introduces a theoretical solution for an alternative punishment for criminals as the purpose of this essay. He hopes to provoke question amongst his readers as to whether being whipped in public is more degrading then being caged. Jacoby is forcing his audience, the general public, to consider his idea of bringing back flogging as a reformed punishment for some of the thousands of criminals. He does recognize that there is a difference in the crimes that are being committed, violent and non-violent, meaning there is a need for more than one type of punishment.
Jacoby uses several methods in his writing to help support his thesis. first, he uses historical facts. in his introduction he descriptively describes the different punishment cases in Boston during the 1600’s to give the reader an idea of what was going on four-hundred years ago. In one case he tells of how a man accused of adultery was’…sentenced to twenty-five lashes” and later the word “adultery”burned in all capitals into his chest in plain view of the public for means not only to hurt this man, but to humiliate him. Statements similar to this are made to catch the reader’s attention as Jacoby certainly accomplished in the first paragraph of his essay. Jacoby utilizes such vivid cases for a reference to the reader of what the punishments were like in the 1600’s,a time period relevant to his solution
Another method Jacoby uses in his essay is statistics. These statistics reveal fallacies in the U.S . criminal justice systems. “Fifty-eight percent of all murders do not result in a prison term.” He also includes the estimated cost of each inmate per year, which is thirty thousand dollars. These statistics are appropriate in that they help support Jacoby’s idea that imprisonment should not be an all purpose punishment including violent and non-violent crimes in “Bring Back Flogging,” Jacoby takes a serious stance towards his audience.
He first presents historical facts, then follows with statistics in an easily understood manner. As the essay progresses he begins to ridicule on the U.S court systems. Jacoby points out the many fallacies in the way criminals are punished here in the United States. He uses examples and statistics to validate his argument. Overall, Jacoby takes an affective approach to grab the readers attention by making them think, question and feel.
Jacoby’s point is a strong, his essay isn’t about reinstating flogging, but more so a closer look at the prison system and the injustices behind it, and suggesting a strong and drastic change is necessary.