The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Corporal punishment (Caning) should be implemented in the legal system of America

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/4/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 288 times Debate No: 90688
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




Hi all, I will be making a stand for Corporal punishment.

You Americans got really bent out of shape when Singapore caned Michael Fay 12 years ago, I'd like to see the American stance on caning.

1st argument purely for accepting the challenge

You may state your substantives.

My substantives are:
1) It is an effective crime deterrent
2) Cases are not done publicly
3) Conditions are kept humane


Greetings to my opponent and the audience reading this debate.

Round 1 is reserved for acceptance and laying down the framework for discussion.

I will be arguing that reformative and/or rehabilitative treatment is preferable to corporal punishment. The latter is an inferior crime deterrent, and promotes more problematic concepts of justice. Moreover, corporal punishment is not the only alternative to the status quo.

I look forward to an interesting and thought provoking discussion with Pro. Thanks!

Debate Round No. 1


Ok, so sorry for the delay, I had school exams and stuff but their almost over.

First, some definitons and background info:
Corporal Punishment is the infliction of physical pain as a consequence of a criminal offence. By Singaporean law, Corporal Punishment can only be sentenced to a male offender between the ages of 18 and 50 who has been certified to be in a fit state of health by a medical officer. Juveniles may also be sentenced to Corporal Punishment, but to no more than 10 strokes. Offenders below the age of 16 can only be sentenced by the High Court and State Courts.

Anyway, Corporal punishment IS an effective crime deterrent. The fundamental basis of deterrence from anything is: If you do this, bad things will happen to you. Since imprisonment in itself isn't a good deterrent and the effects of a criminal record on your future career options is intangible, Corporal Punishment represents a direct incentive to refrain from crime due to the physical pain caused. The medical effects can be viewed here:

I would also like to state that caning is not taken likely by the judicial system in Singapore. Singaporean law allows caning to be ordered for over 35 offences, including hostage-taking/kidnapping, robbery, gang robbery with murder, drug abuse, vandalism, extortion, rioting, sexual abuse, and unlawful possession of weapons. Caning is also a mandatory punishment for certain offences such as rape, drug trafficking, illegal money-lending, and for visiting foreigners who overstay their visa by more than 90 days (a measure designed to deter illegal immigrant workers). Furthermore, it is illegal to cane women, Men above the age of 50, offenders deemed medically unfit by a medical officer and offenders who have been sentenced to death.


Many thanks to my opponent for engaging in this debate.

Corporal punishment is the infliction of physical pain upon a person’s body as punishment for a crime or infraction. Corporal punishments include flogging, beating, branding, mutilation, blinding, and the use of the stock and pillory [1].

Pro begins the debate by stating corporal punishment is an effective crime deterrent. According to Pro, the threat of physical harm will prevent people from bad behavior. He says the impact of physical harm is immediate, whereas criminal records are intangible and imprisonment is not an effective crime deterrent.

First, we should examine whether or not physical pain is an effective crime deterrent for serious offenders. Pro must submit empirical research to prove his case; the same goes for me. I'll begin by citing one study and include more if need-be. In 1937, the Cadogan Committee in Great Britain conducted a study to review the application of corporal punishment. The results proved that corporal punishment did not deter crime and was thus ineffective. As a result, the committee's recommendation was that corporal punishment be abandoned as a judicial penalty [2].

Pro says the effects of having a criminal record are "intangible" or otherwise ambiguous / ineffective. On the contrary, a criminal record is incredibly problematic and can ruin a person's life. It can impact immigration status, voting rights, child custody agreements, employment, driving and other privileges [3]. If we are to accept that deterrence is one important aspect of the criminal justice system, we must consider that short-term punishment is not a good incentive for good behavior. On the other hand, a criminal record provides harsher consequences and would therefore (theoretically) be a stronger deterrent. The same goes for imprisonment which can last for years, vs. physical harm which would arguably be over within minutes.

Consider the fact that crime was still widespread even when corporal punishment was more common. If corporal punishment was an effective deterrent, crime would not have been so rampant when it was utilized. Instead crime rates were not lower back when corporal punishment was implemented. That's because the causes of crime most often include poverty, parental neglect, low self-esteem, drug abuse, mental illness and gang affiliation. Would getting whipped or caned address the root problem of any of these issues? The answer is no.

Throughout this debate, my opponent refers to corporal punishment in Singapore which is not inherently relevant to this discussion. Nevertheless, Pro says that corporal punishment should only be reserved for serious offenses, such as rape, robbery and illegal immigration. However the imposition of corporal punishment has never been fair or reasonable throughout history. Consider the fact that Pro says corporal punishment should not be applied to women or men over 50. Why should we believe that corporal punishment is only a good deterrent for men and not women? That does not make any sense, and it's hardly fair.

In fact corporal punishment is/was almost never fair. In the past, the poor were likely to receive corporal punishment whereas the rich were not [4]. Even today we see the rich or elite class get away with certain punishments. Therefore we can assume the application of corporal punishment, even by Pro's proposed standards, would be problematic and unfair. In medieval times, victims were tortured for not believing the dominant faith of the country they lived in. They were whipped, deprived of food and disgraced all for the small crime of simply not believing in what the other person thought was right [4]. Considering even frivolous offenses are punished as legal crimes today, i.e. smoking pot, we can also assume people will still be physically harmed for minor infractions in addition to allegedly serious offenses.

Every test done studying corporal punishment on children found some level of emotional problems, developmental problems and behavioral problems for subjects as both children and adults [5]. While one's brain develops during adolescence, it would be naive to assume one's experience and trauma of physical suffering would not affect them later on in life. Indeed, studies show that anger and subsequently violence are often a large part of a survivor's response to trauma involving physical pain and punishment [6]. Therefore, forcing criminals to undergo this type of traumatic treatment might increase their likelihood for violent crime in the future, even for adult criminals.

While there is no objective standard of justice, Pro has not submitted why physical violence is a reasonable standard. The United Nations Human Rights Committee and other organizations have suggested that the prohibition of cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights could be extended by customary law to include corporal punishment [2]. Similarly Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights declares that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" [2].

As our society evolved, we have found that other methods prove superior punishments than corporal punishment. As such we are striving for a more humanitarian way of life. Justice is about rehabilitating criminals to prevent future crime. But nothing about temporary physical pain addresses the problems that cause prime and repeat crime.

[5] Chemtob, C.M., Novaco, R.W., Hamada, R.S., Gross, D.M., & Smith, G. (1997)
Debate Round No. 2


Orose_Khan forfeited this round.


Please extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3


Orose_Khan forfeited this round.


Though my opponent has been online, he has unfortunately chosen to forfeit this debate.

I believe I have shown superior conduct, arguments, sources and spelling/grammar/organization.

Please extend my arguments. Thanks for reading.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 5 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro has only one argument: corporal punishment is an effective deterrent since people intrinsically fear pain. Pro doesn't have any source proving this, since their only source talks about the effects of corporal punishment. Con cites a study proving that fear of pain doesn't act as an effective deterrent and that rehabilitation is much more effective. The offense she gets is essentially a turn of Pro's own argument (the effects of corporal punishment) - since that itself is an actual harm, it serves as offense. Pro lacks offense at this point and forfeits, so I vote Con.