A journalist investigates a new justice system
By Julie Baker
My name is Alice Chambers. I’m aged 26 and currently a resident of Brooklyn, New York. I was born and brought up in Leicester, UK, where I lived with my parents and younger brother before going to university in Bristol to study English. I am blonde, petite in stature, and have a very outward going personality. Long distance running is my main passion outside of work and I love the hours of training as well as running in a few marathons each year. I don’t run at a particularly high standard, but it keeps me fit and I get pleasure from the firm, toned body the exercise gives me. I have been blessed with my mother’s beauty and, without going into too much detail, I have boundless energy for being adventurous in my relationships and related activities.
That said, I’ve been with my boyfriend, Richard, now for six years and next week we move back to the UK with plans to get married later this year. We met in our final year at Bristol, both found employment in London and two years ago we managed to get job transfers to New York within a few months of each other. Richard is a qualified accountant and worked for a bank in London that was taken over by an American organisation. At the time, they were looking for people to transfer to their New York office to help with the integration process and simultaneously a vacancy occurred in in my employer’s US office which also happened to be in New York. I’m a journalist for one of the UK’s popular newspapers papers and this presented me with not only the chance for an exciting US adventure, but it was also a great career move for me.
We found a lovely flat on the river in the part of Brooklyn that sits opposite the Lower Eastside district of Manhattan. Richard’s office is on Wall Street, so he gets the river taxi, and my office is in Time Square which is a longer commute via the New York metro. For the past 18 months, we have both been working from home during the pandemic but what I want to tell you about dates back to the spring of this year. Whilst in the US, I’ve been a junior reporter in the office tasked with finding off-beat but interesting stories from the day-to-day lives of ordinary American people. I’ve done this by reading the regional US papers, trawling the internet for leads, and being open to anyone who has wanted to contact me with information for an article. It’s varied and I’ve loved it.
One story that I ran earlier this year was about an initiative in the State of Texas to reduce the number of people who were serving short term jail sentences for relatively minor offences. A decision had been passed in 2018 that offenders should be given the option of accepting corporal punishment instead of going to jail, and a facility for this purpose was constructed and commissioned in June 2021. This is still a controversial policy, and the opening of the ‘Texas State Correctional Centre’ in Austin was low key at the time, but I did run a story on this for my paper. The response was astounding; so much focus on something that I had thought would be of only passing interest.
In my original article in 2018, I tried to explain the concept and the intended benefits of the policy. Firstly, it is not compulsory. Any statutory offence that would be punishable by a jail sentence not exceeding 28 days can be sorted out by the offender accepting corporal punishment, but this cannot be imposed without their agreement. It is an option for anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 and the punishment can only be delivered after the person has undergone a full medical to prove their fitness. The cost was fixed at $500. Prior to the Centre opening, this was about all that was known and more details only became available after the first few candidates had gone through the process. Hence my follow up article a few months ago when I was able to seek out some of the early people to have had first-hand experience.
It was difficult to find anyone willing to give an account, but I did managed to speak to a girl of about my age who was one of the first to go through the new facility. Part of the deal with the State of Texas is that recipients of the corporal punishment are strictly forbidden from disclosing any of the detail of what happens in the Centre, with large fines possible for anyone breaking this rule. Realistically, the procedures were always going to become public knowledge eventually, but I think the authorities were not looking for lurid accounts of potentially erotic events appearing in the press in those early days. For these reasons, my young lady from Texas wouldn’t give me her name and was not particularly forthcoming. I did gather from her that she was able to choose the implement of punishment. She had opted for a wooden paddle, and that it was applied to her bottom; nothing much revealed, therefore. After this, she clammed up leaving me with barely enough material to run my article.
However the response in the UK to what I did manage to cobble together was unbelievable. The head of foreign news in London reckoned that this single article was the most commented on that he had seen in his entire journalistic career! He was delighted with it and phoned me the following day to tell me how pleased he was with my work. His name was Jeff.
“In view of the obvious interest the British public still have about corporal punishment, I’m needing you to do something for me, Alice,” I heard him say down the phone after he had showered me with lavish praise.
In that split second, I suddenly got a feeling about where this was heading. I said nothing.
“I want you to spend a couple of weeks down in Austin for me and test out this system so that you can give a first-hand account of how everything works. I’ve checked and it’s easy enough to qualify for the Correction Centre. We’ll hire you a car and if you drive at 100 mph on the Mopac Expressway to the west of Austin, you will get caught by the traffic cops in no time. The paper will cover all your expenses, including the $500 fee, and you won’t end up with a criminal record as this is avoided if you opt for a visit to the correctional centre rather than jail. You’ll be back in the UK by the time the story is run, so there won’t be any hassle from the authorities over the disclosures. Additionally I’ll make sure you get a great year-end bonus. What’s not to like?” He finished off with much laughter.
The very thought of this set my heart thumping and my hands felt clammy. I instantly knew how I was going to respond.
“Great idea, Jeff. Love it!’ I replied without hesitation. This ticked a lot of boxes for me. Excitement, adventure, career enhancement, financial rewards and maybe just a touch of danger thrown into the mix. “I’ll need to run it past my boyfriend, but I think you can fairly confidently count me in.”
Richard also thought it was a great adventure and my only, and understandable, concern was over how painful the actual punishment would be. I was too far in at that point though. I just had to go for it.
The next few days were a blur of activity. I bought Delta Airline flights from JFK that would get me direct to Austin the following weekend. I booked two weeks in a downtown hotel in Austin and I reserved a Ford Mustang car for the duration of my stay in Texas. Richard decided that he would join me for the second week which, if everything went according to plan, would include my visit to the State of Texas Correctional Centre.
I arrived in Austin on my own late on a Saturday afternoon in mid-August. I picked up the hire car and drove to my hotel. My plan was to head out to the Mopac Expressway on the Sunday when traffic would be lighter. After breakfast that day, I jumped in the car and set the Sat Nav to go to State Highway 45 which I knew would take me along the 11 mile stretch of the Mopac Highway. At 10.00 am in the morning, traffic was very light and there was no difficulty in getting the car speedo to register 105 mph. It was exhilarating! Roof down, 31c on the car thermometer, and hair flying in the wind. The speed limit had recently been raised to 70 mph, but at over 100 mph I was flying past the few cars that had ventured out early on that Sunday morning. I got all the way out to Highway 45 without being stopped, so I turned around and headed back into the city. It wasn’t long before I saw the red and blue lights in my rear view mirror. I pulled over onto the hard shoulder knowing that my fate was sealed.
Two officers, one male and one female, got out of the patrol car and walked towards me.
“Please stay in your vehicle and keep your hands on the steering wheel ma’am,” the male cop instructed.
I didn’t move.
“Do you realise that we clocked you doing 103 mph ten minutes ago when you were heading out of town? And we have just clocked you doing 106 mph on the return journey.” This was the female police officer talking to me this time.
“I’m sorry, officer,” I replied. “I’ve only just arrived in Austin. The road was quiet, the sun was out and I just wanted to see how fast this hire car would go. Sorry, and I won’t let it happen again.”
“Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, young lady,” the older male cop replied. “We have no discretion if we catch drivers doing over 100 mph on this stretch of road. It’s going to be a short jail term for you or a visit to the Correctional Centre, I’m afraid. Your choice.”
I made out that I was both confused and weighing up my options. The lady police officer spoke next. She sounded sympathetic and willing to help me.
“You sound like you’re not from these parts, ma’am. Can I see your documentation, please?”
I handed her my license and insurance paperwork.
“I see you are from England. Are you here on holiday?”
I explained that I was currently working in New York and that I had come down to Austin to have a short break and listen to some music. She took this on board and weighed up my options.
“If I were you, I would opt for a trip to the Correctional Centre. It will cost you $500 to cover the Centre’s expenses and you’ll end up with a very sore butt. But you really wouldn’t enjoy 7 days in one of our jails, and if you go to jail you would also end up with a criminal record that could cause difficulties if you ever want to leave and re-enter the United States. Your choice, but that’s the route I would go down.”
Of course I knew my decision well before receiving this advice.
It was incredibly efficient from that point onwards. My details were entered onto their system on-line at the roadside. I confirmed that I was not opting for the jail term and they offered me a range of appointment times over the next few weeks at the Correctional Centre. I knew Richard was arriving the following Sunday so I opted for 10.00 am on the Monday of my second week in Austin. I thought that this would get it over with swiftly and we could enjoy some down-time before flying back to New York the following Saturday. The final procedure was that they took a right thumbprint record, as you would on an iphone, and they informed me that this was so that I could be positively identified at every point in the procedure. With that, they wished me good luck and sped off, presumably to look for another speeding motorist. I headed back to my hotel.
I was working remotely for the next week, so time did not weigh heavy. I explored Austin on the next Saturday and then went out to meet Richard at the airport the following day. Soon it was time for an early breakfast on the Monday morning and Richard then drove me out to the Correctional Centre on the outskirts of Austin. We were there by 9.45 and he said that he would wait in the car for me. I thought that I might be gone for a couple of hours at the most.
“Good luck, Alice,” were his parting words.
The centre was a low single-story concrete building with an unremarkable appearance on the edge of an industrial estate. The signage was discreet and the only clue as to the purpose of the building was ‘State of Texas Correctional Centre’ written in small gold letters above the main entrance. I went in and there was a large reception desk in the lobby. There was no one else there other than a rather stout lady sat behind the desk. She had a kind face though.
“How can we help you, ma’am,” she opened up with.
I explained that I had a 10.00 am appointment and she went through the procedures with me. Firstly, she checked my thumbprint to prove that I was the same person who was caught speeding. Next she took the $500 fee and then explained about how the centre was divided up and what would happen to me. There were two doors at the back of the lobby; one marked ‘Males’ and the other ‘Females’.
“You go through the ‘Females’ door when I give you the go-ahead,” she explained. “And that leads into the female’s medical examination room where a nurse will assess you for your fitness to receive corporal punishment. If you fail this examination, you will be returned to the lobby and you will need to go to jail to serve out your sentence at a later date. If you pass, the nurse will grade you on your fitness to take your punishment and you will pass through another door which leads into the Punishment Hall which is a mixed gender area. Once you go through this door, you cease to have an option to back out. You will be punished here even if force and restraining straps have to be used. Is that clear, Miss Chambers?”
“Yes, understood, ma’am. I’ll not be changing my mind,” I said in as strong a voice as I could manage.
“Your punishment room number is number 7,” she continued. “Don’t forget this number. When you are in the hall, find this cubicle and your thumbprint will open the door. Wait there and two officers, one male and one female, will come to find you when they are ready to give you your punishment. You will have the choice of three implements and the one you choose will be applied ten times to your unprotected backside. This is to ensure fairness, given that clothing thicknesses can vary, and also to ensure that you are not being excessively harmed. Is this all clear to you?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied again.
She reached across, gave my arm a reassuring pat and then directed me towards the door behind her.
“The nurse is ready for you,” she confirmed.
The lady nurse looked to be in her mid-20s and I concluded that this was possibly her first job after qualifying. Probably not what she had envisaged when she set out on her long period of training, but somewhere to start at least.
I had planned my clothes carefully for that day. I wore a tight white T-Shirt plus bra on my top half and a light cotton flared skirt, with a nice floral pattern, on my lower half, with full-cut white satin panties to complete my underwear. I had short tennis socks and standard Nike trainers on my feet. I wanted clothing that would be cool and flexible, given the particular requirements likely during this process. My judgement was proved to be spot on.
“Good morning,” the nurse opened up with. “May I call you Alice?”
“Yes, that’s fine with me,” I replied.
She checked my details on the system and once again asked me to give her an impression of my thumb print. No chance here of employing a substitute for the day, I concluded.
“OK Alice, please could you remove your top and bra for me.”
I did this and hung the garments over the back of my chair. I have what I consider to be quite nice, small but firm, rounded breasts and I felt no embarrassment as the lady nurse proceeded to listen to my heart and check my blood pressure.
“Please now stand up, Alice, and take off your skirt and any under garments. You can leave your socks and trainers on. No need for these to be removed,” she concluded.
This was a bit more of an ordeal, even in front of another female who was roughly my own age. Again, I’m proud of my body shape and condition but this involved exposing some more personal details about myself, including my total lack of any body hair. No, not anywhere!
She had a quick look at my front, running her hands lightly over my skin. She then asked me to turn my back to her. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that she was down on her haunches having a close look at my bottom. She squeezed it and moved the flesh around a bit, presumably to make some sort of assessment as to how it would stand up to being hit hard with something designed to inflict considerable discomfort. I would have to say that I consider my bottom to be one of my best bits. I like the shape of it, the skin is soft and smooth, and my running keeps it on the firm side.
“All looks fine, Alice,” she concluded. “And unfortunately for you, I can see no reason that your backside won’t be able to cope with what is about to happen to you. Thank you for letting me examine you and you can get dressed now.”
With this, she sat back down behind her desk and started to tap away into her keyboard.
“Am I correct in thinking you will now grade my suitability for taking corporal punishment?” I asked.
“Yes, Alice. I can grade you ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘Fail’. ‘C’ is reserved for older offenders who are maybe not in peak health. Their punishment is more about the shame or ordeal of it rather than the severity of their punishment. You, I’m afraid, are young and in good health. Blood pressure normal, pulse only slightly raised, which is normal for what you are going through, and your butt is perfect with firm muscle tone and strong, taut skin. Sorry, but it’s impossible to give you anything other than a solid ‘A’ grade. Trust me, Alice, I see lots of girls go through here that are your age and they cope with it fine. Yes, very painful at the time but, let’s face it, you have transgressed and you will recover fast. Good luck!” This was all said in a bright and breezy tone that I was struggling to empathise with.
I was soon passing through that door of no return I’d been told about and searching for cubicle 7. I can best describe the Punishment Hall as being about the same size on the ground as an indoor tennis court, but not as high. There is a central concourse running lengthways with exit doors at either end. On the nurse’s side there are two entrances for male and female inmates and either side of these I noted there were 5 cubicles, two at each end and one between the entrances to the hall. Beyond the central concourse were 10 more cubicles in a continuous line. Each cubicle was about 2.5 meters high with solid looking walls and doors, but were open at the top so that any sounds echoed around the building. Presumably this was designed so that air could circulate, but you can imagine that as I walked into that space my ears were assaulted with the sounds of at least one ongoing punishment. I could fully see why they had to cover the possibility of someone getting last minute cold feet!
I could hear some fairly solid whacks landing on someone’s bottom as I found my way to cubicle 7, which was two from the right hand end on the far side. The cries sounded female and I thought they were coming from a cubicle that was a couple down to the left from mine. I needed my thumbprint again to open the door and I was soon inside. The cubicle was about 3 meters square with a thin carpet on the floor and not much in the way of furniture.
In the centre of the space was a spanking bench. I’d never seen one before but there was no mistaking its purpose. There was a long central platform that was padded, covered with red plastic material, and probably about a meter in length. It was hip height and at either end was a padded kneeling area that was at two heights, aimed to be roughly knee-high with plenty of restraining straps dotted about the apparatus. It wasn’t difficult to work out; an end that would be suitable for tall people and one for shorter people. I was thinking that I would probably be below average height and this lead me to thinking that I would be making use of the higher kneeling area to get my body up onto the main platform. Apart from this bench there was a single chair in the far right corner and a small table in the far left corner.
What I didn’t spot until I turned round was a set of wall hooks on either side of the cubicle entrance door. As I faced the door there was a set of three empty hooks to the left, which I assumed was for any clothing that might require hanging up, and another set of three hooks to the right. On these hooks were hanging a large classic American wooden paddle, a heavy looking leather strap and a slender switch made up of three lengths of what looked like hazel or hickory saplings bound at one end with a black leather grip. I knew that I would be given a choice on implements but I had already decided I was going to be taking the switch despite most Americans apparently opting for the paddle. Maybe this was what they were accustomed to. I don’t know. For me, the paddle looked like a very heavy, solid implement and the leather strap simply didn’t bear thinking about. The switch seemed to be the best option out of three pretty poor alternatives and, arguably, also the most ‘British’! I could see that the switch would deliver a considerable sting to my bottom, but hopefully I’d get less deep bruising than might be experienced with the higher impact strap or paddle.
I had been told there would be a bit of a wait until it was my turn. I decided I would be as ready as possible when my turn came. I lifted my skirt and eased my panties down over my bottom, down my legs and off over my trainers. I hung them on one of the pegs to the left of the door and then sat on the chair awaiting my fate. My gaze kept on coming back to those pegs. My white satin panties hung limply from the middle peg to the left of the door. I was conscious of my bare bottom resting on the hard chair but the sight of my panties on the other side of the room confirmed the reality that the system allowed for no protection during my punishment. Looking to the right of the door was even less appealing. My eyes were drawn to the switch that I knew would be lashing into my bottom in a few short minutes.
Eventually I concluded that I was best closing my eyes. There were no mobile phones allowed inside the Centre so I simply had to sit and listen to the sounds of what was going on around me. I could hear the low hum of voices and I counted another two punishments taking place close to where I was seated. I sensed that I could hear the impact of leather on another female’s bottom and then possibly a man getting 10 whacks with a paddle. Hard to tell but what was easily confirmed was that each time there was the sound of 10 loud cracks of some implement on someone’s backside.
Then I heard my door opening. A man and a woman entered in full prison-style uniforms. Immediately I sensed that they were not here to be kind and friendly.
“Prisoner, stand,” barked the male guard.
I did as instructed with heart pounding in my chest.
“You have accepted corporal punishment as an alternative to going to jail. We are here to carry out this punishment. Have you decided on the implement to be used?”
“Switch, please sir,” I answered in a low voice.
The female guard turned to take the switch off the peg by the door. She carefully cleaned the three branches before returning to stand by my side with the switch hanging down from her right hand towards the floor.
“Are you going to cooperate or do you need to be restrained?” the male guard asked.
“I don’t need to be restrained, sir,” I replied.
“OK, that’s fine. But we will put the straps on if we feel at any time you are not fully cooperating. Is that understood?”
“Yes sir,” I replied.
“I can see that you have already removed your underwear. Thank you. Please bend over and take up your position on the bench using whichever end you find most comfortable. When you are ready, please raise the back of your skirt so that the target area is fully exposed and my colleague will then apply ten strokes of the switch. You can cry out if you want but you must not alter your position or interfere with the strokes. If you do, we will apply the restraining straps and then complete your sentence. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir,” I answered.
I did as instructed. The worst part was raising the back of my skirt. I realised that both of them would have seen lots of both male and female naked bottoms in the course of their work, but this was my naked bottom on display. I was proud of it and liked how it looked. But this was for mine and my boyfriend’s consumption, and for a brief moment I wondered why I had got myself into this position. Jeff was probably enjoying a beer in a pub in London, no idea that one of his colleagues in the course of duty was about to get their bottom severely chastised. Was it worth it? Too late for that question!
The two officers were both stood behind me and I could sense them looking at what they had to deal with. Knowing that the male officer was looking at my naked bottom made me feel particularly uncomfortable. However, it was the female guard speaking next. I could already feel the switch resting on my bottom.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
“Yes, let’s get on with it,” I replied.
Well nothing could have prepared me for that first stroke. It was as if a red hot poker had been laid to rest on my skin. It burned and stung like nothing else I had ever experienced. I let out a sharp cry and instinctively I straightened up causing my skirt to fall back down as my hands went round to my bottom to rub the affected area. I quickly got back into position and lifted my skirt again, but as the switch left my skin for the second cane stroke to be applied I couldn’t help putting my hands back round to protect my bottom from any further pain. It was a nightmare situation.
The female officer spoke, but this time with a kinder tone.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we will need to apply the straps. I can’t risk striking your hand with any of the implements.”
And this is what they did. They were substantial, strong velcro straps. She did my wrists and he applied the ones to my ankles. I was then totally at their mercy, unable to move either my arms or my legs.
The second stroke was lower down, almost at the top of my legs, and came as less of a shock. Still pretty bad and I now had two lines of fire alight on my bottom. The third one was higher and I could imagine that she was trying to make best use of the space available on my relatively small bottom. The strokes just kept on coming. She was leaving about 20 seconds between each of them and as I moved into the second half of the ordeal it was noticeable that the pain from each individual cane stroke was backed up by an intense throbbing that seemed to now consume the whole of that part of my body.
I was barely hanging on. By the end, I was bellowing out, not caring if others around me were hearing my anguished cries. It was a dreadful experience at the time with the switch biting into my bottom and me, inevitably, wondering if I would have got on better with either of the other two implements. I just wanted it to finish, and sure enough the last stroke bit into my flesh and I collapsed like a lifeless rag doll onto the surface of the bench. The one sign of life were my gentle sobs which seemed to consume my whole body.
They left me sobbing for a few minutes and then I heard the straps being released. I stood up unsteadily and my skirt fell back into place.
“You can put you panties back on now,” I heard the female officer say. “And then you are free to go once we have one more thumbprint from you.”
I gingerly replaced my underwear, allowed them a final go with my thumb print and exited out of the right hand door in the main hall. Somehow, I expected a departure area with toilets, a cafe and maybe even a shop, but no, it was straight back outside with a sign pointing the way back to the parking lot. My eyes were blinking hard with the stinging from the last of my salty tears, coupled with the brightness of the sun. I stood under a tree for a few moments to regain my composure before finding the hired Mustang with Richard sitting comfortably reading ‘USA Today’.
“How did you go?” he asked breezily.
“Bloody awful,” I replied truthfully.
We were back at our hotel just after midday. Mission accomplished, but my bottom was in a dreadful mess. As soon as we got back inside our room I dived into the bathroom and I could see in the mirror a number of individual livid red lines from the higher and lower strokes plus a raw area in the middle where strokes had overlapped. The cool shower water had never felt so good! As we had lunch, the middle part of my bottom still throbbed horribly and within a few hours some dark bruising became more evident. Richard had rubbed some cream into my welts but it was several days before I could sit down without feeling the discomfort return. It was two weeks before my bottom was back to normal.
We enjoyed the rest of our time in Austin, although I didn’t have any swimwear with enough coverage to enable me to use the hotel pool or sauna. I didn’t work that week and I wrote up my account the following week when I was back in New York. We left for the UK the following weekend, so I was back home for when my story was published. My name was changed and the article contained much less detail than you’ve been given in this account. Surprisingly, there was some level of interest but not as much as we had expected. Maybe people’s interest is more spiked by the imagined possibilities rather than the cold reality? I can’t really explain this any other way.
Via the paper, I got a few requests for interviews and some post-caning photographs. There were some very substantial fees on offer and Richard has a few photographs that he took on his phone when we had just returned to our room in Austin that would certainly have been of interest to certain operators. I wasn’t tempted though. There is no way of the US authorities proving a link between me and the article unless they had further information and, equally, I wasn’t wanting my identity in the UK to be common knowledge. My paper had paid the expenses for the story, so they are entitled to it, and the photos are private to Richard and myself. On this basis, enough is enough.
On balance, I’m left feeling that it was a worthwhile venture. In exchange for a traumatic time at the Texas State Correctional Centre I gained credibility as a journalist, eternal gratitude from my boss, a generous year-end bonus and a paid holiday in Austin.
© Julie Baker 2021 Julie welcomes contact from her readers. Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie’s Twitter address is: @JulieBaker_cane