A Montana Republican state lawmaker wants to give criminals the option of choosing “corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration.” According to Think Progress, the legislation is being proposed by Rep. Jerry O’Neil and would apply not just to misdemeanor crimes, but to some felonies as well.
The law states that “(f)or purposes of this section, ‘corporal punishment’ means the infliction of physical pain on a defendant to carry out the sentence negotiated between the judge and the defendant.” The law states that the exact nature of that pain shall be “commensurate with the severity, nature, and degree of the harm caused by the offender.”
The proposed law stipulates that the punishment shall be carried out by local sheriffs if the defendant is avoiding jail time or corrections personnel if the defendant is choosing the option to stay out of state prison.
Whether this means something like a firm spanking or, perhaps, something as harsh as waterboarding or a public flogging is not stated in the legislation. John S. Adams of the Great Falls Tribune wrote on his blog The Lowdown, “Republican leadership has been doing its best to tamp down any potential bills the other side might use to embarrass the GOP as they work to craft a budget. This one apparently didn’t get tamped.”
O’Neil, the bill’s sponsor, has courted public controversy before. In 2012, he demanded that the state pay his legislator’s salary in silver and gold because of a misreading of the section of the U.S. Constitution that forbids states from printing their own paper currency.