S1R,-One or two points in Brigadier Ince's letter call for comment.
I agree that there is no direct evidence that the Holy Father is opposed to corporal punishment. But it is significant, and of particular interest to Catholics, that this form of punishment has long been abolished from both the schools and the penal codes of most other European countries. Most Continentals seem to regard corporal punishment as a British idiosyncrasy, and it is possible that the Holy Father, as an Italian, shares the generally unfavourable Continental view.
The abolition of flogging was not based on "sympathy for the thug," as Brigadier Ince pretends, but upon the views of the Cadogan Committee, who found that it did not act as a deterrent, and that the records of flogged men were subsequently worse than those of the unflogged. Inside prisons, flogging may be a deterrent because a man who assaults a warder knows he cannot get away with it and that punishment is certain. Even here, it may well be that other severe punishments might deter equally well and that prison warders, with inevitable human conservatism, are merely standing by what they have always known. Outside prisons, flogging is no deterrent because no criminal ever thinks he will be caught. Criminals are notoriously vain and always believe they can outsmart the police.
The judges also have always been conservative, and have opposed every move to mitigate the penal code throughout history. One should be sceptical of their views now. Finally, I see no shame in believing that the criminal may be a maladjusted person, wronged by society and claiming a measure of sympathy. There is evidence that this is so in some cases, and in any case let us not be too pharisaical. We arc all sinners and the fact that with most of us our sins are the right side of the law does not justify us in being too selfrighteous towards those whose sins happen to be the wrong side. Society must he protected. but we should not lose our sense of proportion.
J. E. Cotter.
28 Fairleigh Drive. Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.