December 27, 2004

The Case for Koranic Justice

From the annals of counter-intuition, here's the New Republic, circa 1980, comparing Islamic and American ideas of justice:
At least in regard to cruelty, it's not at all clear that the system of punishment that has evolved in the West is less barbaric than the grotesque practices of Islam. Skeptical? Ask yourself: would you rather be subjected to a few minutes of intense pain and considerable public humiliation, or to be locked away for two or three years in a prison cell crowded with ill-tempered sociopaths? Would you rather lose a hand or spend 10 years or more in a typical state prison? I have taken my own survey on this matter. I have found no one who does not find the Islamic system hideous. And I have found no one who, given the choices mentioned above, would not prefer its penalties to our own.
If it was my left hand—I'm right-handed—I'd say chop it off! I'm a fairly skinny fellow, and probably wouldn't last much more than five minutes in a "typical state prison". If we were talking about my right hand, though, I'd think about it.

At any rate, Koranic retribution—public flogging, hand-chopping—seems like a much better way of doing criminal justice than our current system, which consists mainly of horrific jails and little rehabilitation. Koranic justice, in addition to being a better deterrent (less abstract than a prison sentence; loss of hand can prevent further crime) and less conducive to recidivism (doesn't corrupt you like prison does), is also much, much cheaper. And just think of all the money we could then spend on schools and health care...
-- Brad Plumer 3:42 AM || ||