Decent treatment, even for criminals



Published — Friday 18 January 2013

Last update 18 January 2013 1:19 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Prison is for punishment. Criminals who are sentenced to jail are sent there for two good reasons. Their liberty is taken away from them, so that they can pay for their crimes. They are also locked up for the protection of society.
In the case of thieves, who would rather steal than earn an honest living, along with men given to violence, this is particularly true.
For them crime is a way of life and prison sentences are a price they appear prepared to pay in order to pursue their sad and depraved way of life. Thus it is in the interests of the general public that these individuals should be incarcerated.
However prison is not simply about punishment and keeping thugs and thieves off the streets. It is also about reformation. In any country, among the prison population, there is a proportion, admittedly maybe only a minority that deeply regrets the misdeeds that have caused them to be locked up. These convicts have vowed that as soon as they have served their time, they will pursue good and useful lives and never get in trouble with the law again.
Naturally, the chances of reformation are greatest with young offenders. Some of course will merely be apprentice criminals, who have already dedicated themselves to a life of crime. However, there will be others who have been led astray by older people or committed offenses such as vandalism or anti-social behavior, out of sheer stupidity and lack of forethought, for whom imprisonment constitutes a sharp shock, which will convince them to mend their ways.
The best prison systems make a point of encouraging such young offenders to recognize the foolishness of what they have done and offer them a renewed purpose in life, by giving them training and education during their sentences.
This hardly seems to have been what has been happening at the Jazan Juvenile Center where it was revealed this week that the young people are being held in the most shameful conditions. Decrepit buildings with filthy bathrooms, wrecked windows and broken air-conditioning are bad enough. But the facility has become so overcrowded that there are not enough beds to go around. Thus young prisoners, not wanting to sleep on the filthy floors, are compelled to wait until there is a spare bed, before they can grab some sleep.
The Human Rights Society has very properly become involved, after appeals from Jazan inmates. The prison management has protested that disgusting conditions at the jail are not their fault and that a new modern prison is almost ready. This unfortunately will not wash.
The authorities have to accept responsibility, both for the over-crowding and also for the unacceptable state into which the prison has been allowed to degenerate. If anyone imagined that since these young people are convicted criminals, they deserved these inhumane conditions, as part of their punishment, then they are seriously wrong.
Undesirables though most of the prison population may be, a civilized society must treat its convicts in a civilized manner. This is what sets us apart from them. The common criminal does not respect private property or the rights of others. For him, what he wants he will steal, what he cannot resolve to his satisfaction, he will conclude with violence. This conduct displays a total disregard for the values of decent people. Crimes are perpetrated in a moral vacuum. There is no recognition of the rights of anybody else. What the criminal wants to do, is in his eyes, justified, merely because it is what he wants.
Law, morality and common regard for others are entirely lacking.
This does not however mean that in punishing wrongdoers, society should behave with the same lack of consideration and conscience. The reprehensible conditions at the Jazan Juvenile Center should be seen for what they are, an utter scandal. An investigation needs to be mounted to see how this sorry state of affairs came about. It is not so much a case of heads needing to roll, but rather of coming to understand how this prison came to be in such an awful state.
Thereafter, a determined effort must be made to ensure that a situation like this will never arise again. Then of course, there is the alarming possibility that there may be other prisons in the Kingdom, where similar overcrowding and terrible conditions prevail.
Prisons by their very nature are not easily seen. However, out of sight, should not mean out of mind. Simply because the convicts within them care nothing for the rights of decent citizens, does not mean that decent citizens should care nothing for the prisoners’ rights.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

ABHA: Gov. Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, Asir region, ordered the formation of a working team in Bisha to address the status of the battered woman who recently shared her suffering on social networking sites.Mohammed bin Sabrah will head the team,...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman launched a series of charity and developmental projects during his recent visit to Khaibar Province at costs exceeding SR100 million.They included municipal projects at Khaibar, Al-Salsah and Al-Ashash M...
MADINAH: Pilgrims spend the most beautiful moments in the Prophet’s Mosque, where they pray in Riyazul Jannah (garden from the gardens of paradise) and get to greet the Prophet, peace be upon him, said the Omani pilgrim, Ahmed Nasser. “Such deeds giv...
MADINAH: A member of the Senior Scholars Council, Dr. Abdullah Al-Manieh, has called for the establishment of women’s departments at the Islamic University in Madinah in line with other universities in the Kingdom.“The Muslim woman has had her own st...
JEDDAH: The euphoria over the sudden resumption of call facility on WhatsApp in the Kingdom on Saturday was short-lived as the service was not widely available the following day. A large number of users of the popular messaging service, barring a few...
JEDDAH: Work on developing and modernizing the Kingdom’s 27 airports is ongoing and is expected to be completed within the next five years, according to Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).“Our goal is tha...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and South Korea are set to widen cooperation in the health care sector following a joint road show which underlined potential areas of cooperation and showcased world-class health facilities of that country. The event, titled “Ko...
RIYADH: The Saudi Green Building Forum (SBGF) believe that about fifty percent of the ongoing eco-friendly green building projects across the Kingdom are facing delays for not fulfilling criteria.Faisal Alfadl, secretary-general of the forum, on Satu...
AL-UQAIR: The low-quality of education in the Kingdom arises from many factors. Included among these are the complexity of the system itself, unclear educational vision, non-professional education development programs, and instability due to changing...
JEDDAH: Security authorities in Jeddah called a citizen and his wife for interrogating with them on the charges of beating their Eritrean housemaid.Makkah Police media spokesman, Col. Dr. Atti bin Attiah Al-Quraishi, said: “The Safety Center of Jedda...
AL-UQAIR: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) has deposited SR600 million with local banks for the Al-Uqair Development Company in Al-Ahsa, SCTNH President Prince Sultan bin Salman has said.“Saudi citizens have some equitie...
JEDDAH: A number of preachers have been arrested for using sermons to promote political ideologies, said Fahad Sulaiman Al-Khalifa of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.He said the issue was not widespread, and the ministry reiterated that the sermon sh...
JEDDAH: A Saudi military analyst and retired brigadier, Ibrahim Al-Marie, has called for the compulsory drafting of young Saudis into the military.This is, he said, not only because the Kingdom is facing regional threats, but because of its benefits...
RIYADH: Advertisement campaigns for fake TOFEL and ILET certificates are being monitored on social media websites in an effort to halt this illegal practice. The certificates originate from Jordan and can be obtained by clients for a sum of SR2,000,...
JEDDAH: A group of young men has come up with a novel home cinema project.The project involves providing a cinema hall show for lovers of the entertainment medium by providing projector screens, sound systems and lighting devices with suitable and co...

Stay Connected

Facebook