The thread abotu that teacher in Sudan made me think about this. Like every other decent, liberal minded person I had always seen corporal punishment as barbaric, cruel, uncivilised etc. Recently, however, I was thinking about the system of punishment we currently employ, and it struck me that it is actually pretty perverse.
It costs a fortune to keep someone in jail. It seems enormously wasteful, especially when you consider that they could be doing something useful with their lives. Nor does jail seem to be very good at reforming people - unsurprising since it restricts criminals to associating with other criminals. Jail also seems to be quite a cruel way of punishing people - not letting them be with their family, ruining their career etc.
I got to thinking that maybe, for some crimes at least, some form of corporal punishment would be cheaper for society, and kinder to the criminal than locking them away.
I know that if I had to choose between a whipping and years in prison I would probably choose the whipping. But in the end, maybe this is the problem with the idea - unless the corporal punishment was extremly severe the deterrent probably wouldn' be as bad as that of prison.
Anyway, I don't really know what I'm trying to say. I just thought I'd share my ponderings.