Summing under certain circumstances consequent to the

Summing up, the following generalisations regarding the concept of crime may prove useful in comprehending the subsequent developments in the field of criminology and penology. (1) Crime and social policy are inter-related and the concept of crime and punishment depends largely on the social values, accepted norms and behavioural patterns of a particular society at a given time. (2) Like the society, crimes are also a varying content changing with the changes in social structure. What is crime today may become a permissible conduct tomorrow and vice versa.

For example, abortion which was considered to be a heinous crime because of the immorality involved in it is no longer an offence under certain circumstances consequent to the enactment of law legalising abortion. Even pre-natal determination of the sex of a child has been prohibited and made punishable with a view to prevent parents aborting a girl-child. (3) Crime is a relative term, therefore, what is wrongful (crime) at one place may not be necessarily so in another place. Thus adultery is a criminal offence in India but in England it is merely a civil wrong redressible by payment of compensation.

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Again, in India consuming liquor is an offence in many States under their respective prohibition laws but it is not so in wet areas where there is no licensing on sale of liquor. This relativity of crime obviously reflects upon the varying social reactions to human conduct in different places. (4) The moral tune of the society can easily be gauged from the law of crimes enforced in that society at a given time. This in other words means that criminal law is an index of social progress of a given society. (5) The emergence of law of crime and criminological knowledge has been through a definite process of evolution corresponding to different phases of social evolution.

(6) The modern complexities of human life have contributed to the rising incidence of crime. But there is nothing to be purturbed about this rising trend in criminality. In fact, it is a myth to think of a crimeless society. Modern criminologists have even gone to the extent of reckoning increase in crime as a symptom of social progress. (7) With the passage of time, the emphasis has shifted from ‘crime’ to ‘criminal’. The modern view regarding penal policy favours individualisation of the offender through clinical treatment methods.

This has led to the emergence of reformatory era in the field of penology thus rendering the earlier deterrent, retributive and retaliatory methods completely obsolete and outdated. It is true that modern criminology owes its origin to the European criminologists such as Beccaria, Ferri, Garafalo, Tarde and others but this does not mean that the knowledge of criminal science was completely unknown to ancient India. The Indian epics and other authoritative sources such as Manusmiriti, Nyaya Mimansa and Kautilya’s Arthslmstra contain exhaustive references to crime and criminals which clearly indicate that a well defined criminal policy was in vogue in early period of Hindu society. The most striking feature of the penal law of ancient India was that it used religion and morality as the basis of determining what was criminal and what was not. People in ancient India showed greater respect for religion, morality, ethical values and law; the social solidarity of the community kept people conscious about their duties towards their fellowmen. The occurrence of crime was therefore, a rare phenomenon. Moreover, the fear of caste expulsion and social disapprobation acted as an effective deterrent to keep persons away from criminality.

It was far more humiliating and disgraceful than actual corporal punishment. Later, with the socio-political changes due to advent of Moghul and English rule in this country, the Indian society witnessed a radical change. Due to the impact of western culture the past traditions and ethical values of life have lost all their significance and there has been a drift into excessive materialism which has created an atmosphere conducive to multiplicity of crimes. India’s criminal policy, penal laws and procedural laws are all modelled on British criminal justice system. It is therefore, difficult to link up the ancient penal laws of India with the present law of crime and procedure.

It must, however, be emphasised that the crime and its related concepts being the subject matter of criminology, are essentially concerned with human behaviour. Since human behaviour cannot be defined in exact terms, opinions as to the criminological views are bound to differ. This is evident from the fact that certain criminologists treat criminal as a socially deviated person while others consider him as a victim of his circumstances who needs humanitarian consideration. There are yet a few others who treat offenders as a positive menace for the community and therefore insist on their elimination from the society through prisonisation. Whatever may be the means adopted for handling criminals, the ultimate object remains more or less the same, namely, eradication of crimes from society and rehabilitation of offenders as law abiding members of the community.

Reformation of criminals through clinical approach has been accepted as the cardinal principle of modem penology. It is for this reason that reformation of criminals through modern clinical techniques has been acknowledged as the ultimate object of modem penal justice. It is through this method that rehabilitation of offenders in the community is possible so as to eliminate crime and criminals from the society.

Therefore, conventional methods of sentencing and incarceration are rapidly falling into disuse and are being increasingly replaced by modern corrective measures such as probation, parole and indeterminate sentence. The philosophy underlying these reformative techniques is rehabilitation of offenders through the method of individualisation. While planning out a strategy for crime prevention, it must be borne in mind that human nature is complex and no one can possibly comprehend it fully. It has, however, been realised that all human beings do not respond to a given situation1 in the similar manner because of their varying socio-economic, psychological and environmental ramifications.

It therefore, follows that all the offenders cannot be treated alike. This necessitated the shift of emphasis on the role of prisons from mere custodial institutions to those of treatment and training centres for offenders who indulge in law violation. Thus treatment methods help in the resocialisation of prisoners and enable their adjustment to healthy life patterns and improved inter-personal relationships. After-care services also help in the rehabilitation of the relegated offenders. The modem progressive penology which Manuel Lopez Rey prefers to call as ‘applied penology’ centers round three main aspects of penal justice, namely, custody, security and control of offenders through institutional treatment. Its main purpose is to ascertain the adequacy of existing penological policies and institutions and offer solutions towards the improvement in the functioning of the existing machinery of penal justice.

This continuous analytical activity prevents penal system from being wedded to a particular school of thought and enables it to appreciate the general context of socio-economic and political values such as custodial rights, human rights etc. Psychotherapists believe that analytical treatment of criminals over a period of years may bring about profound changes ù their personality and they may respond favourably to accept their social responsibilities. Besides the preventive measures, there is also need to recognise the plight of victims of crime by both, the criminal justice system giving them the respect they deserve and by society providing the social support which they may need. This will infuse confidence among them and they will cooperate with the police and other investigation authorities in giving evidence etc.

The control of crime to be successfully tackled needs to be addressed from all sides. Mere policing would not yield the desired results unless followed by community involvement, support from victims and changing deep rooted attitudes like relative deprivation by providing jobs, housing and other community facilities to the deprived sections of society. It must be remembered that the essence of any criminal justice system lies in the causation of crime and society’s response to it.

Since social control systems where decide and shape the criminal sanctions in response to criminal behaviour are constantly changing with the advance of time and technology, these should be seriously taken into consideration for an effective criminal law administration. Law to be effective in its governance, has to evolve with time and changing needs and emergency issues in society. It cannot afford to the shackled to the past ignoring the contemporary changes. The cognate conclusion that emerges from the above is that all these factors have a bearing on criminality and, therefore need to be taken into consideration for the prevention of crime and criminals.


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