FLOGGING has been one of the most universally utilized methods of punishing public crimes, as well as a means of pre serving family, domestic, military and academic discipline. In the Mosaic code flogging was prescribed as punishment for crime. Down to about 1800 imprisonment was not common as a mode of punishing crime, and not until the 19th century was imprison ment gradually substituted for corporal punishment. Flogging is still frequently employed, being legal in Delaware, Canada, Great Britain and some Continental and Asiatic lands as a punishment for certain crimes, chiefly assault, robbery and rape. As late as 192o the British Parliament legalized the use of the "cat-o'-nine tails" in flogging those convicted of robbery. Where flogging was forbidden as a method of punishing criminals its use was often continued within the prisons as a method of enforcing penal discipline. Prison investigations have indicated that flogging as a method of disciplining convicts has not yet disappeared from prison systems. Exponents of severity in dealing with convicts are found urging the revival of flogging in the United States. Slaves were frequently flogged to death when they were sufficiently numerous so that they had little pecuniary value. The flogging of negro slaves in the southern United States prior to the Civil War was exaggerated in Abolitionist literature, inasmuch as the negro slaves were too valuable to have their efficiency reduced by over severe punishment.
The instruments and methods of flogging have varied greatly. In maintaining discipline in the home and school sticks, rods, straps, whips and other handy objects have been informally drafted into service. In punishing criminals and maintaining discipline in army and naval circles the lash, with a variety of ingenious elaborations, has dominated. One of the most popular refinements of brutality with the lash has been the so-called "cat-o'-nine-tails." This gained the name because this flogging device was constructed of nine knotted cords or thongs of raw hide attached to a handle. Even more effective in producing pain and ultimately death is the Russian knout. This is an instrument constructed of a number of dried and hardened thongs of raw hide interwoven with wire, the wires often being hooked and sharpened on the end so that they tear the flesh when the blow is delivered. Severe punishment with the knout means death almost invariably. A particularly painful, though not so deadly, type of flogging is the peculiarly Oriental custom known as the bastinado, or blows delivered upon the soles of the feet with a light rod or a knotted cord or lash. In the period before the reaction set in against corporal punishment, flogging was executed with great brutality. The backs of the condemned were frequently cut in strips and blood gushed freely from the wounds. Not infrequently salt was thrown upon the bleeding backs to increase the pain. With the use of the knout pieces of flesh are literally torn from the back as the hooked points are extracted.
With a growing consciousness that punishment is not so much a deterrent to crime as had been supposed, flogging, as a general practice, has been abandoned. Modern psychiatry and genetic psychology have shown the dangers inherent in flogging children, in that such procedure may develop inhibitions, antipathies and neurotic traits likely to undermine the whole mental and nervous system of the child.