The criminal justice system is such a versatile policy tool that it can be used in either way as per the designs of its wielders. Just look at a hypothetical scenario wherein a person ‘K’ kills his neighbor ‘D’ during an altercation over a dispute of some civil nature. And inconsequent to this heinous act of murder, the whole machinery of the criminal justice system comes into action.
Through a laudable blend of honest and sincere efforts, made under the guidance of able and upright command, the concerned police arrest the accused killer ‘K’. Then, after an efficient, unbiased and scientific investigation, a well-articulated, and evidence-wise properly connected final investigation report—‘Challan’ is prepared for submission to the prosecution department.
At a further level, again another galaxy of professional legal minds sitting in the prosecution department scrutinizes the Challan and ensures its shaping into a perfect case file. Then, on behalf of the state, the prosecution institutes a request in the court of law, to adjudicate the case under consideration, and pronounce the judgment regarding the attribution of the offense to the alleged offender and positioning the onus of responsibility.
The trial is started in the Augustus court of law, and the case evidence is evaluated diligently with the assistance rendered by lawyers, prosecutors, and friends of the court. An impartial and just adjudication is made in which subject accused is found guilty of the offense attributed to him, and consequently ‘capital punishment’ is awarded to him. Jail authorities come into action and take the physical custody of the convicted offender.
After a last meeting with crying children, wailing wife, and sobbing old parents the condemned killer is hanged till death. And finally, an example of a quick, visible, and across the board justice is set to provide solace for the badly hurt heirs of the killed person ‘D’, and simultaneously, the writ of the state is demonstrated to all certain and uncertain minds of the general public.
There is a basic criterion to follow while condemning a guilty person, that punishment must be awarded only to the person who has committed a crime. However, we see that, while dispensing ‘justice’ by hanging the guilty killer ‘K’, the state has also inflicted punishment of perpetual suffering upon a whole group of people, which include the children, wife, mother, father, sisters, brothers, and the friends of the hanged person.
What is the crime of screaming children who lost their father forever, and what’s the fault of the wailing wife who became a shelterless widow for the rest of her life? What’s the liability of sobbing parents who lost a full-grown son in their old age, and what’s the mistake of bawling sisters who lost their brother. Is it a justice or a miscarriage of justice to victimize a whole group of innocent people for the personal act of one person?
However, this issue of ‘justice or miscarriage of justice’ is not that much simple that it may remain limited to the extent of dear and near ones of the hanged person. If a deep analysis of causal factors, which led to the killing of deceased ‘D’ is made, it gets revealed that another person named ‘Mx. S’ is responsible for the emergence, continuity, and convergence of these causal factors, and the hanged person ‘K’ was made just a scapegoat.
In the actual scheme of things, before anyone could blame ‘Mx. S’ as responsible for the happening of the crime, a well-orchestrated drama was started in a theater of grand infrastructure. An army of hi-fi puppets, hired at heavy salaries, performed their roles, and well worded dialogues on efficiency, professionalism, and uprightness were uttered to add sobriety to the whole environment.
Where this drama titled as ‘criminal justice system’, provided satisfaction to the heirs and relatives of the deceased ‘D’ by quenching their thirst for revenge, there it numbed the senses of the masses also. In a trance of vengeance and anxiety, no one could realize that they all had been made utter fools, and a falsely implicated scapegoat has been hanged instead of ‘Mx. S’, who actually is responsible for the happening of crime.
Apparently, this drama was played to absolve one single person ‘Mx. S’. Actually, this ‘Mx. S’ is the State, and that’s why the sponsorship of this drama titled ‘criminal justice system’ always comes from the culprit—the State. The purpose of the whole show is to distract the public attention from the omission of the state in providing a timely and trustworthy conflict resolution. However, when expenses incurred in running this show are calculated, it appears that just public distraction is not the sole motive.
This drama serial titled ‘criminal justice system’ is quite expensive. If the purpose was just to absolve the state of her responsibility by distracting the masses, then this could be done by simply coercing the masses into silence. However, as a different course was adopted, hence a natural question arises “then what is the actual purpose of running such a huge theater show”? The answer to this vital question comes from the discipline of management psychology.
The science of psychology reveals that animals are optimally productive when provided with a sense of security and freedom, and that’s why livestock animals are kept ‘safe and free’ in fenced areas. On a similar pattern, the masses are fed an illusion of freedom and security through various state systems, including the criminal justice system, for the sake of extracting maximum productivity, while keeping them under control.
If the expenditures incurred in maintaining such kind of justice systems are compared with the gains accrued to the state controlling oligarchic elites then it becomes clear that the business of running such drama type systems is hugely profitable. In this context, and to add a shade of reality in drama serial some random scenes of selections on merit, pro-poor works and justice for all are also made part of the script by the controlling puppeteers.
As far as the salaried puppets uttering scripted dialogues about ‘rule of law and justice’ are concerned the etiology of their babbling is multipronged. Many of them are blind due to the inherent lack of vision, while a sizable quantum has joined the elitist mafias after getting blindfolded by their own greed. Some have vision, but lack strength of character, and hence, keep flowing with the currents while making some cosmetic changes, and uttering few ‘harmless’ dissenting notes. A rare breed of Bravehearts, which has character and vision both, and tries for some meaningful change, is rendered ineffective by the system.
A normal level of deviance is part of the design of all biological systems. However, the amount and nature of criminality arising in marginalized strata in elitist states are the results of an imposed criminogenic framework consisting of discriminatory educational, economic, and social policies. In elitist states, the working of the criminal justice system in a reductionist mode is a well thought out modus operandi, so that not only the vicious cycle of recidivism continues but the process of criminogenesis also remains in full bloom.
The actual purpose of this recidivogenic and criminogenic kind of ‘so-called justice system’ is to keep the masses suppressed and controlled, while maintaining a fake impression of justice, security and freedom. Through this control system, the turf of elitist states is maintained over non-elite strata. The veracity of this assertion can be verified by just having a cursory look at the ever-increasing militarization of police and the keenness of various power brokers to control this organ of the state.
In the theoretical framework of a modern nation-state, the criminal justice system serves as a policy tool for the provision of security and freedom to the masses. However, except in few welfare states, this policy tool is being used, with varying degrees of applying, as an instrument for the perpetuation of exploitative elite control. Presence of militarized policing systems is a litmus test for an elitist character of such states.
Summing up, there is no justification of any type to operate a criminal justice system without prior removal of all criminogenic and recidivogenic socio-economic structures. Whether a state is titled as a so-called democracy or a naked autocracy, a criminal justice system acts as a tyrannical tool of mass suppression, if it’s not preceded by an effective and inclusive socio-cultural and politico-economic justice.
Dr. Shakir Ahmad Shahid, P.S.P, Ph.D, is a Postdoc Fulbright Alumnus in Forensic Science and Criminology, who has served in various fields like Policing, Investigation, Intelligence and Counterterrorism (CT) at policy and operational levels as a senior Police Officer and the Director (CT). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; drshakirahmad.medium.com; www.drshakirahmad.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.