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Monday, April 19, 2021

Imprisonment or social service,what’s better?

Indian prisons,a home of despair,melancholy and perhaps the end of hope.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 19, 2011 3:47:09 am

Indian prisons,a home of despair,melancholy and perhaps the end of hope. Cases of assaults on women,indifference of jail staff,pathetic living conditions with no concept of a safe environment have resulted in a lot of criticism. The prison atmosphere is truly despondent and this exacerbates the criminal attitude of the wrong doers rather than bring about a positive change in them. The prison is no longer a centre for repentance. It is now thought that community service is a better alternative for punishing petty criminals than sentencing them to jail. They themselves should be made to realise their mistakes,and try to make amends. However,though believing in the goodness of people is noble,it should not extend to the level of stupidity. What is the absolute guarantee that community service will stop criminals from doing bad things? The call of atonement should come from within the soul,the inner self. It cannot be instilled by some external force into the minds of wrongdoers. Hence,petty criminals need to undergo short stints in jail so as to instill a feeling of fright in their minds and prevent them from committing offences again.

Meher Anand,XI

Delhi Public School,RK Puram

The word ‘prison’ is a social stigma that generally spoils the whole life of a person,irrespective of whether he was convicted for a petty crime or a big one. In Indian jails,petty criminals are kept in prison with hardcore ones,which,instead of reforming the former,encourages them to more and more crimes. The purpose of punishing a criminal should be to reform the person,and bring him/her back to the mainstream of society. Such criminals should be made to realise their fault and try their best not to repeat the crimes in future. Living in the company of hardened criminals in prison,most petty criminals are also encouraged to commit hard crimes — which defeats the purpose of punishment. Criminals are also a part of our society. No person in this world desires to be labeled as a “criminal”. Lawmakers should keep this in mind and think of ways to bring a positive change in the lives of such people. In my views,the better alternative to punishment is community service. They must realise that they are part of this society,and that their every deed affects the society — including themselves. Society should also play a role by looking at such criminals sympathetically and ignoring their offence by taking into consideration,the circumstances under which such petty offences have been made.

With such efforts by society,petty criminals can be in the mainstream of the society and they can serve the society instead of becoming a burden on the people.

Vrinda Chopra,VII

Doon Public School,Paschim Vihar

The law of our country was framed by highly influential and knowledgeable dignitaries after India was freed from the long-lasting British rule. The law was made strict and equal for each and every person,irrespective of gender,caste,wealth or religion. Those found guilty were either put behind bars or hanged. The jails of India were made for the lawbreakers,where they had to spend a period of time that was announced as punishment by the court in jails,leaving behind all the luxuries and freedom they previously had. But as times changed,these jails have become chambers of inhuman conditions. First,the treatment meted out to them by the corrupt and harsh policemen is humiliating. Although they have committed a crime,at least they deserve to be provided with basic necessities such as clean drinking water,edible food and warm clothing for winters. Second,due to the increase in the number of corrupt ministers and policemen in our country,people who haven’t committed a crime are trapped in various cases,all thanks to the fake evidence that points towards them. This is totally against the guidelines of the law. In such cases,people who are imprisoned for crimes they haven’t committed go through mental trauma and suffer psychological problems,which bring out their evil side when they are released from jail. This is a serious matter that needs to be looked into. Firstly,we should improve the quality of lawmaking in our country,so that the one who breaks the law is the only one punished for it. Secondly,there should be a strict check on the way the prisoners are treated by policemen as prisoners also have rights. Third,better enforcement of anti-corruption laws will ensure that nobody interferes in lawmaking by making false evidence to trap people who have not committed any crime. Fourth,the person who is found guilty of the crime should be judged in accordance with the psychological factors that drove him to take up crime. This will tell us what circumstances led them to break the law. This will ensure that when that person is released from prison,the psychological factors that led them to commit the crime would be a thing of the past,and they will lead their lives with a fresh approach. Last,the power of decision-making should lie only with the Judiciary,and it should focus on all evidences and witnesses to ensure ‘quality’ of decision-making,rather than ‘quantity’ decision making.

Sahil Rohilla ,IX-D

Salwan Public School,Gurgaon

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live,it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”

This was said by a great thinker,known as George Bernard Shaw,and he sure knew what he was talking about. In our lives,we always face difficulties. Poor people,under excruciating circumstances,find the need to steal small commodities to continue existing. And,for these reasons,they are sent to jail and — at times — tortured. Just because they do not have any strong support behind them and they are poor,so they are harshly and unsympathetically treated. Why do lawkeepers have to be so harsh towards petty criminals? Stealing food from a shop just to fill their children’s stomach is not a deed that deserves stern punishment. I think community service is a better alternative to imprisonment in such cases. Petty criminals should be made to engage in activities such as gardening,construction work or helping non-governmental organisations serve the public. This will reduce the number of people in our jails,and provide hope to people condemned to isolation from mainstream society. Imprisonment will only convert such people into true criminals,not good human beings.

Pranav Arora ,X -LD

Venkateshwar International School ,Dwarka

Prison has an important role to play in protecting the community from dangerous offenders and punishing them for serious crimes. It is said that people comes out in a worse state than what they went in as. Imprisonment is the most punitive and coercive sanction the state imposes on its citizens. At a practical level,it causes major problems for the prison service in accommodating the people concerned in a decent and dignified way. The path of non-prison penalties is the rational path for most criminals found guilty of most crimes in order to achieve protection,recompense for the harm done,and a solution that might reduce crime in the future. It is important to find effective alternatives to prison for offenders who can be safely punished in the community. People subjected to community alternatives commit fewer crimes,as compared to people who have been in prison. In many cases,the results turn out well. The government has to expose prisoners to certain activities such as counselling and groupwork for them to become reformed.

Kirti Gupta,XII-B

St. Mary’s School,Dwarka

Imprisonment does not reform criminals because the system is faulty. Prisoners are treated even worse than animals. They live in such subhuman conditions,that it is impossible for them to feel like human beings once again. They are forced to live in harsh conditions and are treated badly. We have to prevent the prisoners from becoming hardcore criminals. The first thing that has to be done is to respect the criminals for the sole reason that they are also human beings,and therefore,deserve humane treatment. Jail authorities have to be enlightened to the fact that though these prisoners are in a vulnerable condition,they are not supposed to take undue advantage of their vulnerability. Health and hygiene should be given attention. There should be ways of educating the prisoners on various subjects that most of them were not exposed to all their lives. Debates should be held so that they can voice their opinions on things they like and they don’t.

Navya Bagla, IX

Salwan Public School, Gurgaon

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