Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Prison Strap: "Over a Barrel"

The Prison Strap could be a fearful instrument of corporal punishment, a heavy bullhide instrument often 5 or 6 feet long causing severe bruising as well as abrasion of the skin.  On the other hand, in Texas it was restricted by a law passed in the 1930s to a mere 18 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches wide, set in a wooden handle.  This law also specified in could be applied only to the bare buttocks and thighs.   More severe punishment was (and to some extent still is) routinely applied in TX high schools than what the law permitted in the prisons.

Its use was gradually abolished as various courts, legislatures or prison administrations created rules against it.  You will sometimes read that it was abolished by the US Supreme Court, but apparently this is a myth, the Supremes have never ruled on prison spanking and the US District Court rulings are contradictory so the last word has not yet been spoken on the subject, however the punishment is no longer in use anywhere in the US or Canada.  Paddling of juveniles in state custody is specifically permitted by law in some states (such as Tennessee), however it is forbidden by administrative rules everywhere, even where high school students can be paddled. 

One of the District courts found the practice unconstitutional, but another ruled that it was legal as long as it was not too severe and did not involve unnecessary humiliation, specifically prohibiting requiring inmates to remove all of their clothing and receive the punishment totally naked (as seems to have been the usual practice) on the grounds that this wasn't necessary to increase the pain of the spanking--the implication being that making the man pull his pants and underpants down was acceptable, to ensure a good sting.  Until the last few decades prisoners were often required to be naked a great deal of the time, as this makes them more docile and easier to handle.

I've always been surprised that children have been the last to be protected from corporal punishment while convicts and men in the military can no longer be spanked.  I'm not exactly arguing that spanking in prison would be a great thing, but a moderate and well-regulated use of a light, stinging paddle or belt-sized strap on adult male convicts as a minor administrative punishment is clearly more humane than what's going on in US prisons currently, where thousands of convicts are kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.  Even in the infamous Southern prisons that used the strap (and other, more brutal abuse) freely, prisoners lived in barracks type housing and had a remarkably active social life. 

Surprisingly, in Southern prisons the strap was most often wielded by convicts, as there were few guards and the prison was run by a hierarchy of trusties.  This could lead to abuse as the trusties were horny and wanted sex from the handsomer prisoners, who could be spanked at the whim of the trusties and thus had little choice in the matter. 

Men spanked in prison were often laid or held over a barrel, which is likely the origin of the expression "to have someone over a barrel", meaning to have him at your mercy.  The Jamaican film "The Harder They Come" features a scene where the hero is given three court-ordered lashes with a tamarind switch on his naked behind, over a barrel, probably one of the most realistic scenes of Judicial CP in any film. 

For a couple of fairly authentic prison strappings, see the Robert Redford movie Brubaker.  The film is wildly incorrect about the details of prison life and even shows the prison (in the early 1960s) as racially integrated: one of the men we see get his butt whipped is black, another white, but the real life events on which the movie is based took place at a white men's prison.  The bare assed strappings in the film, however, are surprisingly realistic.


  1. Presumably paddling juveniles in state where it is permitted by law but forbidden by administrative rules could only result in administrative rather than criminal sanctions against the paddler?

    Like the pic btw. Would prefer a revealing rear view and a juvenile recipient next time.

    1. I guess it would get you fired. And probably sued, legal or not, I'm thinking a civil remedy might be available to the offended party; this kind of thing is regarded pretty unsympathetically nowadays.

      Glad you liked the pic. A rear view of such a scene is a possibility; I don't do juveniles--I only like to see real men getting spanked.

    2. I agree that a paddler could get fired and sued. However, in practice, it seems doubtful to me that a civil suit would result in much damages if the paddling was not disproportionate to the offense. Even better, if damages were made payable to victims and the state as restitution and compensation for cost, I doubt that there would be many suits.

      I agree that a paddler would be liable to be fired but see no reason why there should not be a prohibition on firing for actions permitted by the state. Is it the case that the state expressly permits paddling or simply that the state's laws are silent on the point?

      Even more sensible is to let the corrections system pay for itself. Good citizens get to paddle selected inmates for a fee and the fees are used to pay the prison’s expenses and compensate victims.

  2. Love it Turquine! My favourite part of the picture is actually the buck naked dude on the right, covering his dick and balls with his hands with an embarrassed and nervous look on his face!

    I like that all the guys going to get strapped have to strip down totally buck bare before even the first one gets it.


  3. confusing,but "tucker telephone",a electro generator from telephone,used in tucker prison alabama,also cummings prison,there,they had a famous five foot long,by six strap,in "brubaker",a hot black buck is stripped nude,and strapped before entire cafeteria prisoners,they did this,also electro shocked prisoners,and those unwilling to relent to the guards sexual desires."sexology" magazine i saw as a kid ,title "sexual torture in prison" discussed this,a bull necked hot black bull described "they wired up my penis shaft,and both balls,wet me down and i was screamin,hollerin,and urinating,as guards laughed,impotent for two weeks."brubaker" showed a black gettin "tucker telephone",briefly,NO SHOTS OF HIM OR WHERE WIRES WERE!

  4. I agree with so much of what you said here Turquine. While i think the original Prison Strap was a bit too brutal, I think that today's prison population would benefit greatly from some degree of humiliation and a SOUND paddling. The courts were wrong when they said being naked wasn't necessary, and that it caused undue humiliation. The fools failed to recognize that the humiliation is a necessary part of the discipline. Applying a fiery sting to a prisoners bare butt while he's fully clothed isn't enough. He's just gonna try to 'take it like a man', and be on his way with bragging rights. But strip him naked, make him feel powerless, and THEN blister his butt, and he'll be kicking and crying like a baby in no time. Now you have a real opportunity to teach a lesson. We have got to get back to basics. Our prison system is a joke, with repeat offenders only on the rise. There needs to be a real deterrent to not only keep inmates in line, but to ensure they learn something from the experience.

  5. I make and sell them 5 foot long up to3/4 thick

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