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Q1: How should the criminal be treated?
We usually think of a criminal as a person who commits acts of gross depravity, has absolutely no respect for humanity or the law and who is a threat to society and we feel that he or she should be locked in a cell and the key thrown away. But seldom do we stop to examine the reasons a person becomes a criminal. What drove him to commit these acts? We must consider all the factors before condemning a person to a life as a “criminal”. How a criminal should be treated is a question that has been debated for centuries. Changing social and political scenarios influence the way criminals are treated, although P the basic approaches through retribution, and rehabilitation remain the same.
There are basically two approaches to the treatment of criminals. The liberal approach seeks to fight crime with reason. The defenders of this approach want to understand crime as much as to fight it, to offer criminals a chance of a better life so they will see the error of their ways. It emphasises correction and rehabilitation. In contrast to this the tougher approach emphasises punishment and deterrence. Supporters of this particular approach feel that criminals should be punished according to their crimes and support the philosophy of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” They incorporate both corporal and capital punishments into their justice systems. But whether these are effective deterrents is debatable.
In order to bring about a system by which a criminal is treated fairly and at the same time not let off easily, a number of steps must be taken. Firstly the justice system needs to be revamped. Steps should be taken to ensure that the trial is conducted fairly and that the jury are not emotionally swayed in any way. Efforts should be made to be light on first-time offenders who should be counselled and put in correction centres to prevent them from turning into hardcore criminals. Repeated serious offences usually warrant a more serious form of sentence such as e incarceration. But only in extreme cases should capital punishment be used and if it is, then it should be done only after a thorough analysis of the criminal and his crime. Also criminals should be executed in the most humane way possible to minimise suffering, as well as dis tress to family members.
One of the biggest problems facing the justice system at present is the deteriorating conditions of prisons. Prisoners are forced to live in filthy, often crowded cells and the food provided is inadequate. Thus there is a need for better planned prisons with adequate living space for each prisoner. Sanitation and cleaning should be improved. The meals provided should be nutritious since usually prisoners must do some form of work. They should also be suitably paid for this so that when they are released they will have some form of financial support. The system of solitary confinement should be abolished as it can cause a lot of psychological harm to a prisoner.
The authorities must try to rehabilitate criminals as far as possible through counselling and therapy. Psychiatric help should be provided when necessary. Visits from family and friends should be allowed more frequently and mail should not be censored. Each prisoner should be treated individually and his privacy should be respected. This will help to reduce the otherwise dehumanising effect of prisons.
The persecution of criminals continues even after their subject to constant hostility and ill-treatment release but this time by society. They find it difficult to find work as people are reluctant to employ ex-convicts. Society should be more tolerant towards them and accept them into the fold. Though these measures seem idealistic, it would do a lot of good if even some attempts were made to reform the system. This would ultimately help to fight the scourge of crime that currently affects our society.
GP tuition teacher’s comments: the following are good to add to your vocabulary
nemesis: justice bringing deserved. punishment
depravity: wickedness, moral corruption?
persecution : subject to constant hostility and ill-treatment
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