By "Radical" Russ Belville on August 11, 2009
Another Stasher C.C. from Lowndes County emailed Georgia Rep. Tommy Benton to protest his stance that marijuana users should be tortured by the brutal act of caning, as is the standard in Singapore.
GA Rep. Benton: "I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I think we should go to caning for people caught using and maybe execute dealers."
Before we get to Rep. Benton’s response (sadly, this one is not a Hall & Oates cover), I’d like to explain a bit what “caning” is, courtesy of research by Georgia NORML’s David Clark and the website of World Corporal Punishment (placed below the “Read more” link in case you’re sensitive to pictures and descriptions of brutality). This isn’t some schoolhouse rap on the knuckles from the teacher; this is a form of torture.
Rep. Benton's proposed punishment for marijuana users
(World Corporal Punishment) The Singapore Prisons Regulations require that caning be inflicted on the buttocks (Regulation 132(2)).
In practice the prisoner is required to strip completely naked for the administration of the punishment.
Once he has removed his clothes, the inmate is made to stand facing the trestle so that he can be tied to it.
Rep. Benton doesn't think this is "cruel and unusual punishment"
In Singapore, he is made to bend over a pad between the front legs. His feet are secured to the front base with his hands secured to the back legs, so that he is bent over at about right angles at the hip.
Once the prisoner is secured, the caning officer will take up position, standing about five feet away, and adjusting his position with the aid of the cane. Correct positioning is critical. If he is too near the prisoner, the tip of the cane will fall beyond the buttocks and thus reduce the effect of the stroke. If he is too far, the stroke will only cover part of the buttocks.
Rep. Benton doesn't think people who oppose caning hold true "conservative values".
A senior officer stands by, with the doctor.
The cane is soaked overnight in water, so it is supple. The Prisons Department says this is to prevent it from splitting and shearing the skin. They denied earlier claims that the cane is soaked in brine. However, it is treated with antiseptic before use.
TO ADMINISTER A CRIMINAL WHIPPING, the officer first twists his body to the left. The aim is to get as much force as possible behind the stroke. The offender is whipped on the buttocks. After each stroke, the rotan is immediately pulled back.
Irrespective of the age of the offender or the type of crime committed, every stroke is inflicted with the full strength of the warder: “Canings are administered with maximum force” (South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 2 April 1994).
Twelve months after caning, the scars are still visible.
“… when caning, the warder uses the whole of his body weight, and not just the strength of his arms, to strike. He holds the cane rigidly at arm’s length and pivots on his feet to deliver the stroke”. (Singapore Director of Prisons, September 1974)
A 25-year-old caning officer in Malaysian prisons, Iskandar Radz, said that he underwent a two-week training course during which he was taught how to swing the 1.09-metre cane at a minimum speed of 160kph and produce a force upon impact of at least 90kg.
Which brings us to Rep. Tommy Benton’s latest response to one of our sincere and polite emails asking him to reconsider recanting his unconstitutional and inhumane statement “I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I think we should go to caning for people caught using and maybe execute dealers. That would solve the problem as well. That is what they do in Singapore and they don’t have a drug problem, but then they have less liberty than we do here.”
You don’t want to legalize weed because of your conservative values. Pardon my French but that is a big old pile of bull crap. You and your cronies want it legalized so you can get a hit anytime without having to worry about getting arrested. I have forwarded your email to the Lowndes County sheriffs office so that they can be on the lookout for you. Consider this my last correspondence on the the subject to you or anyone else who shares your similar “conservative views’.
So now Rep. Benton has taken another unconstitutional step of threatening his constituency with harassment by law enforcement for politely and reasonably petitioning their government for a redress of grievances. It’s no surprise that someone who doesn’t understand the Eighth Amendment would have trouble understanding the First.