Friday, August 31, 2007

The Innocent Man and Capital Punishment.

“Many men have been hanged on far slighter evidence,” I remarked.“So they have. And many men have been wrongfully hanged.” - Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan

I just finished reading "The Innocent Man" of John Grisham. It definetly rattled me. More than that it made me think and rethink about the so called justice delivery and about Capital Punishment.
In my teens I have had the "tit for tat" attitude and still I have confess I have traces of it. I always believed in the "Retributive theory of punishment", and felt that "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" definitely made sense and is fair. I have always maintained that the reformatory theories and the "correctional " prison system which intended the Criminal to regret the crime committed was an "utopian idea" and was never going to work .

But it is true that the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and the whole world would soon be blind and toothless" made me think . But I let it off after a good laugh on it as my alligience to the retributive theory was so deep and well founded. With this (thought) background it would be no surprise to know that I have always been an ardent supporter of capital punishment.

But changing times brought some changes to my attitude and thoughts. I started thinking "prudently". I understood that we are living in a "not so perfect" world and not all the convicts are criminals in a real sense . Judicial decisions doesnt necessarly be right, as the evidence can be fabricated, wittnesses can be bought . And also that not all the criminal activities are "crime"as I started understanding the notions of "Necessity", "Private defense" etc. And also that the word "Criminal" is not an inclusive one.

Now after reading the "The Innocent Man" I am shocked. The review of the book is true to its words. "....If u believe in death penalty this book will disturb u . If u believe the criminal Justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you..". Men sentenced to death for a crime they have not committed and that too without any direct or circumstantial evidence . They waiting in death row for many years..Police and prosecution lazy to arrest the real culprits even though they have all the DNA evidence with them. A person arrested and sentenced for death on a "dream confession" Confessions taken forcibly and used against them, though self incrimination is against constitutuional guarantees. Trial and conviction of an innocent, mentally unstable, indigent man. And all these overlooked by the judges who are supposed to be the "guardian angels" of justice. My first thoughts was "What world are we leaving in"?. Then I comforted myself thinking "After all it is a fiction. No one can mess up this much and no justice delivery can be this blind."

I cant express my shock when I found the photographs of the characters in midpages. Only then I realized it was a true story and not a fiction as I had comforted myself. The pains they endured to come out of jail and after releasing, the fear with which they live in this society, the suspicion the members of the society still have on them even after they have proved to be innocent, the non acceptance by their church. And I wonder how cruel/blind our criminal system is. Who is answerable to their losing years ( Many of them arrested in 20's . Prime of everyones life and released after 15 or 20 years.)? The investigating officers, prosecutors, snitch wittneses, jury, judge ????

I remember a convict asking the question "Is it innocent till proven guilty or guilty till proven innocent"??
It made me think do we really need capital punishment??? Is our justice delivery "a myth"?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

To Kill a Mocking Bird and a reminiscent

I njoi reading as thousands of others. I took up reading since.....well,.. since ... before my 1st form I guess. (coz I started going to school since I was 2 years). This happened not because of my high IQ but because of the simple reason that my parents were employed. A job that was not worth to be resigned, u could say they were "highly employed". ( Twenty five years back the concept of "day care" was not very "prominent", neither was "benevolent maternity and paternity packages" as now nor were they comfortable with nanny's taking care of me). So my parents didnt have option rather than asking their friend who owns this school to admit me. And I went to school. But I have no hard feelings on it. I enjoyed being the youngest member in the whole school with special previleges. I can sit in the classes I preferred (my preference of classes depends upon the "dresses and loveliness of teachers" :D)and leave the classes whenever I wanted. I remained the youngest member in class from my school days till I finished my Masters.

Back to my reading habit. I read anything with some exceptions, some of which are Mills and Boons and such other silly romantic books, Harold Robbins, (I read one, and I didnt like it, then I thought I should give another chance as I beleive an author cant be strictly judged with one book but I cudnt reach till the half of the next book) and a few more. Other books that I dont read/ dare to read is philosophy and also those "highly helpful" books like "how to influence people" "How to make friends" "How to lead" "How to crack joke" etc.( Simply bcoz I dnt need all those. I am too good in that already and there isnt anything left to improvise. Too much of confidence?).

I had never tried reading "to kill a mocking bird", simply because I classified in to come into "those motivating" section. Then one day whilst on a vacation in florida a friend asked "why didnt you read it"? No usual advices like " u must read it once" "it is wonderful etc". The way he asked me I felt I didnt do something mandatory or which I was supposed to do. I finally decided to read it.

After finishing it I asked myself "why didnt I read it before"? It is a simple book of innocence. The comradeship and understanding between Atticus (father ) and children was so inspiring. And the communication and the friendliness between the brother and sister, again made me crave for a big brother ( I always wanted a elder brother. But it had stopped by the time I turned 16, cos I felt that they always hindered ur freedom unless one is very lucky.) The simple way of saying the story, describing the political and society's attitude is so absorbing. The thoughts and the thought processes are very stirring. All the characters in the book has a special place of their own, and showed their importance or worthiness when required. Let it be Boo Radley or Calpurina or Miss Maudie or Mr. Cunningham and Ms. Dubose too :D.

The book captuered the innocence, attitude, Situations, friendship, the craftiness or shrewdness , the principles of the people. The book was beautiful and very refreshing. A definite must read...