Nearly a year after American teenager Michael Fay was caned in Singapore for vandalism, a movement for similar forms of punishment is surging in this country. At least nine states are considering corporal punishment laws, which would allow use of a paddle or cane to punish street criminals.
"This Singapore incident got my attention," said Mississippi state Rep. Tom Cameron, sponsor of a caning bill that passed the House but was stopped by a Senate subcommittee. Cameron said the crime problem in the United States prompted him to look for new ways to deter criminals. "Obviously, nothing else is working," he said.
The momentum began in California last May, when Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R) was sparked to action by the Fay incident. The American teenager was caught spray-painting cars in Singapore and was sentenced to four months in prison, a $2,230 fine and six lashes, reduced to four after appeals from President Clinton and Fay's parents. The case drew international attention and prompted debate over the appropriateness of the punishment.
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