Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When the guilty is not guilty

The society we live in has adjusted to a lot of norms based on how people react “generally” to certain situations. Once a common reaction is repeated by more people, it becomes a trend. A trend may be right or wrong. Example of a right trend could be resisting from littering around supporting our government’s initiative on cleanliness. Example of a wrong trend could be to bypass a red traffic signal. Once the quantum of following a trend increases, it becomes a cult. A cult eventually becomes a generally accepted behavior a human is expected to showcase in certain situations. In some cases, a certain behavior type becomes so normal and universally accepted that questioning / abusing / ill-treating people with those behavior (who are now in the majority) will result in punishment through some legal discourse.

But have we ever wondered if the other side of the coin feels the same way? In other words, what if you actually stop in front of a red signal for a whole minute despite knowing that it’s early in the morning and there’s no one who’s crossing from the other side?

Our society expects us to follow a list of rules / laws that is enacted to protect us. Once we move in the different direction than expected by law, we are liable for punishment. Our society also enlists the severity of the punishment based on the severity of the crime. A petty crime like parking on a no parking zone can perhaps result in a monetary fine of Rs. 100. A serious crime like murder / rape can result in life imprisonment or in rarest-of-rare case, even death.

Assume someone has committed a murder. Our legal system punished him by imposing life imprisonment. A punishment as severe as Life imprisonment ensures justice to the family of the deceased. We expect the murderer to feel guilty of the crime, repent while being in prison and possibly come out a better man. The whole “guilt factor” involved in punishment of the murderer is possibly the best possible outcome the family of the deceased can expect, that the murderer should suffer in jail, should realize the gravity of the crime and lose his most productive years in jail. 

Here’s the twist – assume the murderer is actually enjoying his stay in prison. Not that the police are supporting him. He is going through everything that a criminal needs to go through in jail. He needs to toil hard for in-house work, gets simple staple food almost every-time, has a small cell to live in, gets beaten up occasionally. But instead of the “guilt factor”, he is actually enjoying all this!

How will the family of the deceased feel now? Is this actually justice? Who decided that a jailed person should feel guilty and repent for his crime? Our society, of course! And for all the reasons I mentioned in the beginning of this post. Society probably thought that once a person is isolated, deprived of his living style and made to experience a tough life will make him repent. We are also conditioned to think that way and there’s no one to blame here.

What I am trying to drive here is a thought process involved in enforcing a punishment to the culprit who doesn’t feel punished. In my example, one person died, his family has to live with the pain and the murderer shows no remorse in jail. Probably, that’s the loss we have to take for all the goods that society gives us. But then, probably not!

PS: Murder as a crime and life imprisonment as a punishment are cited as examples here. It could be any crime and any punishment.


  1. People set rules based on how well it works for them. We all say no to corruption but people dont mind bribing officials just to get their work done. That attitude is what should change.

    1. Yes Ashwini. We make rules, we break rules..


All yours..

wibiya widget

You might also like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...