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A Hard Hand Now May Save Hard Crime Later Pro-Flogging Make Life Of Crime A Painful Choice

Fri., Feb. 10, 1995

Punks have taken control of our streets because we’ve become a nation of patsies.

We shake our fists at soft judges who spank hands rather than butts and then fret because “barbaric” Singapore canes a young American vandal.

Our squeamishness leads to situations such as the one going on now in Newport, Wash., where young thugs fondle and harass passers-by and vandalize businesses.

Something’s wrong. We need to get hard-nosed about (pardon the oxymoron) juvenile justice.

Typically, however, bleeding hearts are squawking at a proposed Mississippi law that would allow judges to order paddlings instead of weekends at the Juvie Hilton.

Opponents whine that floggings are unconstitutionally cruel (sniff!), humiliating (sniff!) and uncomfortably reminiscent of the whippings doled out to slaves (honk!)

But the current system is a miserable failure. Petty violators receive an advanced course in crime from juvenile-detention regulars.

Three decades of coddling delinquents have produced hardened troublemakers, such as Kevin Boot, 17, one of two Spokane cousins charged with executing churchgoer Felicia Reese while she prayed for him. The unrepentant creep has had 18(!) convictions for stealing, assault and threatening others with guns and knives.

Maybe a little corporal punishment early on would have made a difference. Maybe Felicia Reese would be alive today.

Coeur d’Alene cleaned up its main street after a Spokane teen had been thrown through a storefront window a few years ago by cracking down on teen loiterers - hard. The City Council armed police with ordinances that forced minors off the street after curfew and allowed the police to single out mischief-makers.

Americans are tired of youthful impudence and violence.

In Idaho, for example, legislators are considering a package of juvenile-justice bills that would emphasize accountability over rehabilitation. Mississippi isn’t the only state considering a return to the paddle.

A carefully regulated spanking for petty crime isn’t a cure-all for the rot eating away at our society. But it will serve early notice that lawlessness has painful consequences.


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