Written By: Shajeeda Tajdeen

Crime is basically an activity which goes against the legally established principles of a country. It is an act wherein there is a contravention of the law and order and punishment is the penalty for such wrongdoing or misdeed. But while inflicting punishment on the offenders we seldom consider the fact that ‘No one is a born criminal’. The social, economic factors play a key role in shaping one’s character. Crime and criminals are not new to the world, the problem of crime and its impact on the society are grave and in order to protect the society from the ill-effects of crime and criminal activities the law punishes the wrong-doer by levying penalties, fine and imprisonment.

Imprisonment basically constitutes a major part of the punishment concept. It is a situation wherein the personal liberty of an individual is at stake or a situation where a criminal is deprived of his personal freedom for a certain period. The period of imprisonment defers from crime to crime. India is a democratic country and it showers on its citizen’s various types of freedom which are to be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, sex etc. The Constitution of the country itself clarifies in Article 21 that ‘no person shall be deprived of his personal life and liberty except according to the procedure established by law’. The concept that justifies imprisonment is as follows:

  • To discourage or prevent or stop an individual from committing a criminal act.
  • To make a criminal payback for his wrong-doings.
  • To make a criminal disabled so that he cannot proceed or continue his criminal activities.
  • To reform the offender. i.e. to inculcate a positive attitude in the offender or to change him for the better.

The main objective of imprisonment is to achieve the above purposes. So basically, The concept of imprisonment serves a dual purpose;

  1. To protect the society from the wrong-doings of a criminal
  2. To rehabilitate and change the criminal ideology of the criminal by making him a responsible citizen.

So the major questions that are required to be answered are;

  • Are we really working or are even interested in reforming a criminal?
  • And is inflicting imprisonment an only way to wash off your hands from the obligation that one has towards the society?

It will not be wrong to say that the reformative theory has lost it essence. So what it actually a reformative theory, what does it state and how it aims to improvise the condition of the offender shall be discussed below.

  • The theory believes that the stringent and adamant nature of criminal can be treated by removing the cause of his crime.
  • This theory accepts the fact that no person becomes a criminal from the mother’s womb, it is the outer factors such as social, economic, physical and psychological factors that push or open ways for an individual to enter the crime industry.
  • So if these factors are reduced the criminal activities would automatically experience a fall.
  • The theory aims to surrender a criminal to a prison, but as per this theory the definition of prison is not similar to the dictionary meaning of ‘prison’. Prisons as per this theory should not only consist of cemented wall and irons.
  • The theory believes that crime is a disease and therefore criminals should be treated as patients.
  • Like patients, criminals also require emotional, social and psychological support, if they are left alone with their negativity there are possibilities that their situation would become worse and there would be no scope for
  • Lack of proper education, poverty, lack of mental and economic support are all major factors that boost crime. So if provisions for providing education and teaching professionals skills and counseling are made within the prisons the situation of an individual would possibly become better.
  • It is the duty of the prison officials to be polite and courteous with offenders because ultimately, offenders are also human beings and no human likes to be disrespected and hated.

Thus, reformative theory aims to bring alive the good conscience of the individual. In a country like India where the population and crime both are increasing at a rapid speed. It is the need of the hour that every individual is it a normal person or an offender or a criminal realizes his inner voice. By just punishing or imposing penalties the crime rate would not see a fall because we already have a huge range of imprisonment for every crime but still the crime rate does not experience a fall because mere imprisonment does not play a key role in eradicating the root cause of crime.

So if we need to progress as a nation it is very important that all the individuals, be it the people behind the bars, or the people outside the bar are treated with dignity and respect.

It should be remembered that love and affection and believe can even bring a dead stone to live, so these offenders are just people who have lost their way to the positive life they just need guidance and support.

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