Should criminals convicted of non-violent crimes face jail terms?

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Just imagine that you have committed one of the gravest crimes but in a non-violent way. You are convicted but you have no jail term,but you have to pay a fine only.It spells the easiest way of committing a crime. Are you mobilising the funds to commit yet another crime? It sounds strange and interesting, isn’t it?

Criminal justice is administered according to the procedures laid down in codified procedural laws and punishment is meted out according to the findings and decision arrived at and as advised by the jury system and above all as prescribed in a penal code. For example, in India, Criminal justice is rendered according to the procedures laid down in the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act and the punishment is awarded as prescribed in the Indian Penal Code.

Generally punishments are awarded to the criminals according to the gravity of the crime and they are essentially one of degree.Punishments are given to the culprits if the crimes committed by the criminals are proved beyond reasonable doubt.The logic and the purpose of conferring punishments to the culprits is to make the concerned person repent for the crime he or she has committed, besides setting an example to the whole world.Suppose a person has committed cheating or misappropriation of the funds in a concern where he or she is employed and he or she has been convicted for imprisonment for a period of six months, the whole world will know that the criminal has been convicted.On the other hand, if the criminal is not jailed but was asked only to pay a nominal and a prescribed fine as ordered by the court, just because it was a non-violent crime,then the punishment will become only an empty formality.

Going a step further, criminals by way of paying a fine may not repent for the crime they have committed and the public may not even aware of the gravity of the crime.On the other hand criminals committing crimes may even get emboldened to mobilise funds before committing a crime and proceed to commit a crime according to the fine amount that he could mobilise.

As it is criminal courts are levying fines only for petty or small crimes.If courts are awarding only fines and no jail term for all non-violent crimes, then they will be classified and grouped in the category of petty crimes.

Above all if non-violent crimes are viewed and considered leniently and criminal courts are awarding only fines to the culprits,criminal courts have no business nor they have to apply their judicial mind.The criminal courts dealing with non-violent crimes will just become a machinary for levying fines just like an RTO office or a treasury, levying a fee on each head.

Criminals committing non-violent crimes but required to pay only fine will consider it only as a license fee to commit a crime.Criminals will consider themselves just like ordinary citizens and will not remorse for what they have done but begin to lead a normal life.

Crimes like cheating , theft, burglary, breach of trust and the crime of printing counterfeit currencies etc should be punished according to the gravity of the crime; according to the damages sufferred by the concerned persons against whom the crime was committed.The crimes should be categorised on the above lines and according to the mental agony sufferred by the victims.Then only there will be a rationale between the crimes committed by the criminals and the damages sufferred by the victims.

Therefore, the present system of convicting a criminal and committing him or her to jail, according to the existing criminal laws is logical, purposeful, meaningful and has reasoning. Otherwise, the criminals committing lesser offences or non-violent crimes will simply go scot-free, by paying a fine and the entire criminal justice system will lose its significance as a judicial machinary.

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