Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Before Punishing the Criminals

Crime is considered to be an evil against society for which the man is punished by the laws made by man. It is generally believed that good and evil lie embedded together in human nature and it has been seen often in actual life that many good souls commit evil deeds simply because evil in them gets the upper hand over the good in them. The causes of human vices may be many, for example, some persons submit to pleasure while others cannot endure pain and a few others lack the strength of purpose or even prudence in the choice of actions.
It is generally believed that evil is always punished whether in the form of bodily sufferings or mental agonies or even in the form of complete ruin and death. But let us not forget that it is unjust to inflict punishment where law fails to weigh in the scales a person's criminality and the suffering he has already undergone for that. A punishment that is not aimed at reforming the offender would turn him a confirmed criminal. We cannot contradict that "Justice is a machine that when someone has once given it the starting push, rolls on of itself and the defaulter is ground to pieces under this machine for an act which at the worst was one of weakness". So we must see how far and in what circumstances the accused is really guilty of an offence. There must be some flexibility in the law in which there is a scope for the psycho analysis of the convict. Unfortunately, there is no provision under the law to treat a prisoner of "Weak Character" as a patient rather than a criminal. 
According to the Holy Qur'an; "All sins can be wiped away by good deeds and repentance, except the sin of disbelief in the reality of the ideal, which contradicts belief in itself”. It is very unfortunate that in our modern society, criminals are dealt or treated like dogs. Their power of resistance is broken by solitary confinement and unhealthy atmosphere, and naturally when they come out of the prison, they are quite unfit to cope with life. Their will-power is broken and they easily succumb to temptation. So it has become an established fact that solitary confinement instead of reforming the prisoner makes them desperate. A thoroughly disgraced convict feels extremely humiliated when he moves about in the society. Therefore, it is the basic need of the society to find out ways and means to rehabilitate such a person to an honorable place in the society so that he may become, a useful citizen and show repentance over his past punishment. Society uses it as a means of preventing its members from violating both its formal and its written laws, although its confidence in the effectiveness of this technique is not great. There is little enough justification for confidence, for time and again the threat of punishment has failed to keep the members of society in line. At numerous times, in the history of civilization, the punishments prescribed for various crimes have been most severe. As recently as the 19th Century, for example, long years of punishments and even death were meted out for the theft of nothing more than a loaf of bread. Yet despite such inhuman penalties, transgression occurred.

Psychologists themselves originally accepted the popular belief in the value of punishment – the belief that is expressed so dogmatically in the proverb 'spare the rod and spoil the child'. Experimental work of punishment is not consistent. This seems to imply that punishment is not a single psychological mechanism which works in a single fashion but rather that its effectiveness will be a function of the various conditions in which it is used. If we consider some of the factors that may generally influence the effectiveness of punishment, we shall recall the usual situation in which punishment is brought into play. Generally it is simply one in which the organism has responded to a stimulus in a way which we wish will not recur. In other words, we are dealing with a stimulus-response connection which we hope to destroy by punishment. This connection may be one that has been strongly teamed and because of its strength is likely to show great resistance to destructive efforts. Thus, one or two punishments may not prevent the response from occurring when the stimulus is again presented. Actually these punishments may decrease the probability that the response will occur, but we do not measure the response with sufficient precision. As we understand it today, punishment seems to operate in the same manner as the avoidance learning. Behaving in a certain fashion leads to painful consequences and we tend to move away from the painful consequences. At the same time, through a process like conditioning, the stimuli that have been associated with the painful consequences acquire the tendency to produces anxiety reactions. Since we tend to escape from an environment that produces anxiety, we tend to make a different response than the one which has been associated with the pain of punishment. This punishment works not by weakening the original habit but by substituting a conflicting response to the same stimulus.