The increasing rate of crime in different countries today makes the truth of the matter very clear that imprisonment alone will not serve to make society crime-free as such. To a young generation that has been indoctrinated with the idea that the amassing of wealth and the enjoyment that may be derived of it constitutes the highest goal in life, crime is nothing but the easy way of making money. Statistics today reveal that crime is on the increase in all modern societies of the world.
Take, for instance, the situation in India itself: in the past one decade the rate of crime has gone up considerably. Look at a report by India Today which talks of an alarming rise in criminal tendency amongst the younger generation, involved as it is in the mad . of crime amongst youth. Although crime is prevalent amongst all sections of the younger generation, it is to be particularly notedthathe rate of crime.
is on the rise dramatically among within the youth of the middle-class as well as the upper-class families. The National Crime Bureau has disclosed in its recent report that 56 percent of the perpetrators of these crimes have been youngsters in the age group of 16 to 25. Out of the 551 cases of robbery-under-threat that took place in Mumbai over the past 11 months, 80 percent was committed by were freshers in such activities and 50 percent of these were below the age of 20. It is also reported that robbery and theft have risen in Bangalore and that 60 percent of the culpritsin these cases were youngsters. 93 percent of the most heinous crimes committed in Delhi during the last one year were also committed by youngsters.' (India Today, 02.01.1999)
An eleventh standard student kills ahis friend because he started going around with the girl he liked, Shyam and Ravi who, for the purpose of making money, killed at least 23 people by clubbing them to death (both were aged 24), an engineering student who murders the mother of a friend to rob her of her money, the 21 year old who kills the mother and sister of a friend to loot their house, the son of wealthy parents who carried away four girls rapes them and murders more than one person (aged 26), the 25 year old who is a suspect in 27 cases of murder - the list of such criminals is, indeed, a long one.
Why is it that the list of such crimes keep growing? The prime reason is the loss of belief in the Lord of the worlds as well as in the life Hereafter. Materialistic thought and ways of lifehas taught men that the ultimate goal of human life is to amass wealth and maximize enjoyment. There is also the feeling amongst criminals that they will never be caught and even if they are caught they can escape from punishment through various means of influence There are even people who feel that even if they are punished they can live their lives in comfort after a few months in jail. The prevalence of this line of thinking in capitalist societies will, no doubt, prove consequential in the alarming growth of crime. In truth, this problem continues to haunt social scientists of all nations that claim for themselves the status of modernity.
What, then, is the solution? Harsh punishment for crimes and execute such punishments shoulf be awarded in public. It is evident that if a situation is created wherein the amputation of hands for robbery is certain the rate of crime will drop. The nations that have adopted the Islamic penal code are living examples of this assertion. During the reign of the late king Abdul Aziz, it was only a mere 16 amputations that were required during his long tenure of 25 years. To put it differently, there were only 16 proven cases of robbery in 25 years. It is certain, then, none will be inclined to attempt robbery in a society wherein the situation is such that the thief will have his hand amputated and wherein those who have actually lost their hands owing to their thievery lives amongst the people. No matter how pressing or tempting the impulse, the majority of the people will abstain from theft for fear of the harshest retribution. This fact is conceded even by the materialists. For E.S. Ganghadharan had written thus: 'In strictly implementing the Islamic ruling on punishments for robbery, murder, lying, cheating, adultery, quarrelling and the like, there is no mercy shown while enforcing the harshest penalty. As a result, the occurrence of internal strife and criminal acts in the Arab countries is very few indeed.' (Deshabhimani Weekly, 11.03.1979)
What of imprisonment itself? It does not, by itself, make any effect on the other people. Does it, then, create any change in the criminal himself? Here again the answer is 'No'. We see that those who come out of imprisonment after having served their sentence usually turn out to become professional criminals. What effect does it have in society when criminals, who come out of prison, carry on their sinful lives with greater vigour, vengeance and courage than ever before? It is simply that the ultimate purpose of penal law is hardly served out by mere sentences of imprisonment alone.