A young woman faces up to judicial punishment
By Paul Tecres
When I opened the front door I was greeted by two Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputies, one male and one female. “Are you Rachel Weathers?” the female Deputy asked.
I knew immediately that I was in big trouble. I guess you’re expected to do stupid things when you’re 18 and have just graduated high school. I certainly did.
I had a boyfriend named Trevor that I had been with since my sophomore year. We were serious, and even talked about getting married after college. That is until a month after graduation, when he suddenly broke up with me and, to add insult to injury, he admitted to sleeping with another girl. Normally, I forgive others for their wrongdoing, though I’ve been known to throw a tantrum about it sometimes. This was different though. I was so hurt and angry that I decided to get even instead.
I knew the restaurant where he worked and I knew what his normal schedule was. So, on a Thursday night when I knew he would be closing, I went to the restaurant and slashed all four of his tires with a box cutter. I felt somewhat vindicated, until the next day when the cops arrived. Apparently the restaurant had just installed a new security camera overlooking the employee parking lot. Even in night mode, you could clearly see that it was me on that video. The female deputy explained what would happen now.
“You have two options in this situation. Either we can arrest you, and you’d be looking at 7 to 10 days in jail, or since you don’t have any prior arrests, we can set you up for an appointment at the correction center. Honestly, if I were in your shoes I’d take the second option. You’ll end up with a really sore backside, but you won’t have a criminal record.”
I had to think about that for a moment. I knew a little bit about that place. It opened seven months ago, after Florida passed a new law where people who committed minor crimes could elect to receive corporal punishment instead of going to jail. This option would only cost $100, and it didn’t show up on a background check. I remembered reading that the punishment would be ‘10 strikes on an uncovered posterior’.
I asked the female deputy, “Who gives the punishments there?”
She replied with, “It’s all done by a machine. They do it like that so nothing inappropriate happens. Plus, it gives you a little privacy since no one has to be there to witness it.”
I was shaking from nervousness. I couldn’t go to jail. Getting arrested would be a huge embarrassment to my family, especially since my dad is a church pastor. Plus, a criminal record would follow me around, and could make it difficult to get a job in the future. I felt like I only had one choice.
“Okay,” I replied fearfully. “I’ll, I’ll take the corporal punishment.”
The officers entered my information on a tablet device right there. Then they had me scan my thumbprint on a reader built into the tablet. The female officer said that’s how I would get around at the center. Then they had me pick an appointment time. I had up to two weeks to go, but I wanted to get it over with as quick as I could. I took 1.00 pm on Monday since it was the first available. The deputies explained that if I didn’t show up, or tried to back out at the last minute, a warrant would be issued for my arrest. After the Deputies left, I went up to my room and sat on my bed thinking about the mess I’d gotten myself into.
Later on, when everyone was home, I explained to my family what I had done, and what was going to happen to me now. They were all very supportive, just like always. My brother said I was smart for going the corporal punishment route and not having to do any jail time. Mom said I was brave, and dad commended me for taking responsibility for my actions. I didn’t get the scolding I was expecting from any of them, and that kind of made me feel worse.
I had the rest of the weekend to think about things so I decided I would try and prepare myself for what was coming. I didn’t have much experience with this kind of thing. Spanking wasn’t my parents’ go-to method of discipline. They used it more as a last resort. I think I got spanked once or twice when I was really little, and I didn’t remember it that well, just that it hurt. That means of discipline was used so sparingly that, if I’m honest, there were probably a couple of times that I really deserved it, but they granted me some leniency.
To gain some insight, I video-called my cousin Ron in Mississippi. He grew up with corporal punishment being a part of everyday life. I told him what I’d gotten myself into, and what was going to happen on Monday. He told me about his experiences.
“The worst thing I ever got a whipping with was the switch,” he said.
“My mom would tear my rear end up with those things. What made it worse is when I was about 6 or 7 she started making me go out and cut my own switches. The first time I did that I didn’t know how these things worked. I tried to kinda be a wimp about it, and I cut the thinnest switch that I could find. Big mistake. It turns out that the thinner it is the worse the sting. I learned real quick to cut them a bit thicker after that.”
“Did it help?” I replied.
“Well, it still stung like nobody’s business, just a little bit less,” he chuckled.
“My dad preferred to use a belt. To be honest, if I had to pick one or the other, I’d take the belt. It still has a vicious burn to it, but not as bad as the switch. Both of them will leave you pretty sore, but I could take ten with the belt before my eyes started to water. With the switch it only took about three and I was bawling. And I should mention that I never got spanked with either one of those on the bare butt, but even through clothes they’re both awful. They’ll both leave you sore for a few days.”
We chatted for a few more minutes. Ron advised me to wear loose-fitting clothing, and said that sandals would be better than regular shoes since I wouldn’t have to sit down to put them back on. After those few minutes we began to wrap up.
“Ron, thanks for helping me get an idea of what to expect.”
“Oh sure, Rachel, no problem. And hey, for what it’s worth, I’m really sorry you ended up in this situation. It’ll be okay though. You said you won’t have a criminal record, so you won’t have to deal with jail, probation and all that mess. You’ll be sore afterwards, and probably even more sorry for what you did, but you’ll live.”
I thanked Ron again and disconnected. I spent the rest of the weekend thinking about what he’d told me. ‘Yeah,’ I thought. ‘I’ll make it through this.’
I arrived at the center Monday afternoon at 12.45 pm. I had made my preparations. I wore a plain t-shirt, with loose-fitting athletic shorts, and sandals. I had a pillow in the car with me to sit on for the drive home.
The center was a simple-looking brick building, and the only indication of its purpose was a small sign by the glass door in front that read ‘Escambia Correction Center’. Even though I was early, I went inside because I just wanted to get this over with.
The lobby was big and sparse. The few chairs it had by the door were all empty. I walked over to the front desk, and was greeted by the receptionist. Her name was Diane and she looked to be in her mid to late thirties. She was remarkably friendly, considering what this place was for.
“Hi, how may I help you?” she said cheerfully.
“Um,” I responded awkwardly. “I have an appointment at one o’ clock.”
“Okay, I’ll need your I.D. and a form of payment; the fee is 100 dollars.”
I gave her my driver’s license and debit card. She typed a few things into her computer and a moment later returned my cards.
“Would you like a printed receipt or would you rather have it emailed to you?”
“Uh, email is fine.”
She entered in the email I gave her, and double-checked to make sure it was accurate. She placed a thumbprint reader on the counter.
“I’ll need you to scan here to confirm your identity. You’ll do this a few times today.”
I scanned my thumbprint and she explained what I would need to do next. She pointed to a door to my right across the lobby.
“You’ll scan your thumbprint to open that door. That takes you into a one-way hallway where you’ll find your assigned room. Then you’ll scan to enter the room. Now, each room is divided into two chambers, the medical chamber and the punishment chamber.
“You’ll enter the medical chamber first and wait for a nurse to come in and examine you. Then the nurse will grade you on your fitness to take corporal punishment. Anyone who fails medical will have to go to jail until they can be re-evaluated. I’m sure you’ll pass though.
“Once that’s done, you’ll scan your thumbprint to enter the punishment chamber. In there, you’ll just follow the instructions on the touchscreen, then the machine will administer your punishment. After that, you’ll be free to go. Oh, and I should tell you that once you scan and enter the medical chamber, there’s no backing out. You’ll have to take your corporal punishment even if force has to be used.”
I was even more nervous now.
“Let me check something real quick,” she added.
Diane looked at her monitor and clicked her mouse a couple of times.
“Okay, it looks like you’ve been assigned room six. When you enter the hallway, it’s the second to last one on the right. You can go in now, and the nurse will be with you shortly.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
“No problem,” she said.
I walked across the lobby and scanned my thumbprint. I heard the click of the door being unlocked. I entered the hallway and walked down the row. I came to a stop in front of a door that had the number six on it. My stomach felt like it was tied in knots. I scanned my thumbprint, and entered the medical chamber. It looked like a typical doctor’s office exam room. There was a padded table, and a scale with the height bar attached, plus the usual medical supplies. Pretty straightforward. I sat and waited. The nurse arrived in less than five minutes.
“Hi, I’m Claire,” she greeted me as she made her way to a small desk in the room. Claire looked to be in her early twenties with dark blond hair. She opened a laptop that she’d brought in and clicked its mouse a couple of times.
“Alright,” she began. “First I’ll need you to state your full legal name for the record.”
“Rachel Anne Weathers,” I replied.
“Any heart problems, Rachel?”
“Okay, good. We’re going to check your vitals first.”
She put a blood pressure cuff on my arm, and a pulse oximeter on my finger. A machine connected to the cuff took its reading.
“Alright, ” Claire said. “Your O2 SAT looks good. Blood pressure is good. Heart rate is a little elevated, but that’s understandable.
“Okay, I’ll need you to take off those sandals. You can just leave them by the door. Then step on the scale for me.”
She pulled up the height bar and measured me at five foot seven. She entered my height and weight on the computer, then spoke again.
“Okay, I need you to go ahead and take off your shorts and underwear, and hang them on the rack by the door. You can get dressed in here once your punishment is done.”
I removed my lower clothes as instructed. I was somewhat grateful that I didn’t have to be completely naked. Claire took out a measuring tape. She measured the length from my waist to the floor. Then took a couple of more embarrassing measurements, including the width of my backside. She entered those measurements into the computer.
“Alright, next I’ll have to perform the tissue exam. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s necessary,” she said as she put on a pair of exam gloves.
She walked around and knelt down behind me, kneading my bottom with her fingertips. She checked in a few different places.
After a moment, she got up and said, “Okay, we’re good there. It’ll just take me a moment to enter some information on the computer.”
As she was typing, I told her that I had a question. She said to go ahead and ask.
“At the front desk, they said you’d grade me on my fitness to take corporal punishment. How does that work?”
“Well, we have four grades. Excellent, Good, Fair, and Fail. Fair is mainly for older offenders and people in poor health. If someone gets that grade then the striking power of the machine is reduced, and the implement used for their punishment is a foot long double ply leather strap. It still delivers quite a sting, but there’s less marking.”
She said it all so matter-of-factly that it sounded like she was listing the options on a new car or something. The thought of the strap was frightening, especially considering what Ron had told me about the belt.
The nurse continued her explanation.
“If someone is graded Good, or Excellent, then the machine strikes at full power, and uses a three-inch-wide wooden paddle. In your case, you’re young, healthy and physically fit. I have no choice but to grade you as Excellent.”
That thought made me even more nervous. I stood there, feeling exposed as I was naked from the waist down. Claire finished typing on the computer.
“Alright, you’re all set to begin. I’ll be right in here, monitoring your progress until you’re done. There are no cameras, so I can’t see inside the room, but I’ll get indications on my screen of what’s happening. It’s just a safety measure.”
She pointed to a door across the room from the one I had entered through.
“That door leads to the punishment chamber. Just scan your thumbprint to enter, then follow the instructions on the screen. It’ll have you get on the spanking bench, then the machine will carry out your punishment. When you’re done, you’ll scan again to come back out.”
My heart was pounding as I scanned my thumbprint. When I heard the click of the door unlocking, I almost jumped out of my skin.
I entered the punishment chamber and closed the door behind me. I looked around and saw the spanking bench. It was an odd-looking contraption. Its main structure consisted of two platforms. A short platform for kneeling, and slightly above that a long platform for the subject to bend over. The kneeling portion had two cuffs next to each other at the rear. They looked similar to the cuffs on the blood pressure machines at the pharmacy. The upper platform also had two cuffs, one on either side. Both platforms had padded boards attached to them on hinges in a vertical position. The upper platform had its board on the left, and the lower had it on the right. I wasn’t quite sure what those were for. There were two robotic arms attached to the machine on the left side as well. There was also a computer screen positioned at the far end of the upper platform. To the right of the bench was a touchscreen. I walked over to it and saw the instructions.
‘Tap here to confirm your identity.’
I tapped on the screen and my information appeared. It prompted me to scan my thumbprint to confirm it was correct. I scanned, and then heard mechanical noises. I looked over to see the bench adjust itself according to the measurements the nurse had entered. Next, I watched as one of the robotic arms removed the paddle from a storage space under the bench, and connected it to the other arm that would deliver the punishment. It looked like a wooden school paddle that I had seen pictures of before. Three inches wide, just like Claire described. It looked maybe 15 inches long, and about a quarter of an inch thick. Very intimidating.
The next instructions were for me to kneel on the bench, bend over and insert my wrists and ankles into the cuffs. I took a deep breath and exhaled first.
I knelt on the lower platform of the bench and bent all the way over the upper platform. I was now looking right at the screen at the end of the bench. It showed a diagram of the bench with each of the cuffs in red. I put my right hand all the way into the cuff, and it turned green. I followed suit with my left hand and both of my feet until I saw all of the cuffs in the diagram turn green.
The cuffs then tightened around my wrists and ankles. The padded hinged boards on either side slowly folded down. The upper one came to rest on my back just below my shoulder blades, and the lower one on to the back of my calf muscles. None of the restraints were so tight as to cause pain, but they did have me locked down to where I couldn’t possibly move.
The screen showed the word, ‘Calibrating’.
I heard the whirr of a motor, and felt the paddle lightly touch me at the point where the bottom meets the back of the legs. Then another whirr as the arm drew the paddle back.
The text changed again, this time displaying in capital letters, ‘NUMBER OF STRIKES REMAINING: 10.’
A moment later I heard a pinging sound, and a message appeared, ‘Your punishment will begin in,’ with a ten second timer below it. I watched the timer countdown, and braced myself.
The first blow landed. It hit the exact spot that the paddle had touched during calibration. The arm seemed to have a little follow through on the swing, causing the paddle to press into the tissue slightly. I inhaled sharply. It was enough to get my attention, but not as painful as I had anticipated.
I watched the screen update, ‘NUMBER OF STRIKES REMAINING: 9’.
The paddle drew back again, and I felt a slight burn. For a second, I thought that maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as I had expected. I was so very wrong about that. The second blow landed in the exact same spot with a much sharper sensation this time. I screamed out loud. The screen updated again to show eight strikes left.
The paddle drew back, then I heard another motor whirring. This one turned out to be the one that moved the paddle up and down. The third blow landed on a spot right above where the first two had hit. This made me scream out again. I closed my eyes, grit my teeth and braced myself.
Another hit landed on the same spot, and I grunted loudly. I heard the sound of two different motors again. One drawing the paddle back and one moving it down. It didn’t move all the way down, though. It lined up on a point right between the two impact areas. It hit part of each, and I could feel some bruises already starting to form. The robotic arm drew the paddle back, and landed another blow in the same spot. I screamed out.
As the paddle pulled away, a fear crept into my mind that I was going to be paddled to death by this horrible machine. Ron said I’d live, but I wasn’t totally sure of that anymore.
As a third swat landed in the exact same spot, I started thinking that I must be at least half-way done, and that all I had to do was survive the rest of my punishment. I opened my eyes and looked up at the monitor, hoping to find some small relief, but when I saw that I had three more to go I just felt an awful sense of dread. The vertical motor hummed and lowered the paddle to its original position. It turned out that the worst was yet to come.
I was already incredibly sore all over my backside, but adding to that the ‘sit spot’, as some call it, is the most sensitive part of the butt. And I could feel some bruising in that area. When the next blow landed there, my mouth opened and I tried to scream, but the scream wouldn’t come out. As the paddle was pulled away, I began to breathe rapidly, and could feel sweat beads on my forehead. The next strike landed and I yelled out, successfully this time. The lower half of my bottom was burning, and very tender. The arm pulled back and struck again. I screamed out in agony once more.
As the paddle was pulled back, I looked up at the monitor, and finally found some solace when the screen read, ‘NUMBER OF STRIKES REMAINING: 0’.
The computer made a pinging sound, and the on-screen text changed.
‘Punishment is complete. Please remain on the bench until instructed to get up.’
The two boards lifted off of me first. After they returned to their upright position, then the cuffs on my wrists and ankles were released. The screen text changed again.
‘You may get up slowly when ready.’
I freed my hands and feet from the cuffs and pushed myself up off of the bench carefully. My backside felt like it was on fire. I stood up and turned around. Even walking seemed to make the pain flare up. I noticed a full-length mirror next to the door. I turned around and looked at my battered posterior. It was crimson all over. There were about six dark bruises in a few different places, including two big round ones right on the sit-spot. I took a moment to compose myself, and exited back into the medical chamber.
The nurse told me I was all done, and could get dressed. I was glad I had taken the advice Ron gave me about loose-fitting clothing. I would have hated to put on tight pants after that. I scanned my thumbprint and left the room. I walked down the hallway and scanned one more time to open the exit door. It opened into a hallway leading back to the lobby. I stepped into the restroom to wash my face, fix my makeup, and take a couple of the ibuprofen I had stashed in my purse. Afterwards, I went back to my car, and sat down trepidatiously in the driver’s seat. Even with the pillow I brought along, sitting down was not easy.
I drove home and my family was as supportive as ever when I arrived. Everyone was concerned about my well-being. I got hugs from both parents, and even my older brother, who seldom hugged me anymore. I had to deal with a thought that had kept nagging me on the way home.
“I just want to tell everyone that I’m sorry,” I began. “I’m sorry for breaking the law, and I’m sorry for having been difficult to deal with sometimes.”
With that, I started sobbing, and even further embarrassed myself.
It took a total of ten days for my backside to heal completely. It stayed red all over for a week, then a couple of bruises lingered for three days after. I took some time during those days to reflect on my life choices.
I called Trevor and apologized to him. Although we’re still no longer together, we did make amends. He apologized to me as well. I had to dig into my savings a bit but I reimbursed him for the new set of tires he had to buy. I also reached out to another old friend that I’d had a falling out with, and made peace with her.
I’ve decided I’m going to do everything I can to hold my temper from now on. I don’t want to get into any legal trouble, and I definitely don’t want to ever see the inside of the Escambia Correction Center again. I don’t know what kind of sadist designed that machine, but it clearly has only one purpose. To inflict excruciating pain.
© Paul Tecres 2021