Oneof the major aims of having law and order in the civilized society is to ensurethe citizen of a dignified life. Every individual deserves basic human rightsirrespective of their caste, culture, nationality, color etc. But what aboutthose who evade the law? Those who we punish and often imprison. Should they betreated equally as that of other members of the society? Well, its simple. Whena person commits a crime or evade law,he become becomes a criminal. But does he cease to be a human being? Thehumanistic principle states that even if an individual commits a crime he doesnot cease to be a human being. Oneof the most humane theories of Punishment states that the main objective ofpunishing an offender is not only to set an example for the society but also toreform the individual, so that when he re-enters the society after serving histerm he can become a law abiding citizen, a changed human being. Hence criminologistsbelief that imprisonment can be used as a very effective tool to educate andreform a criminal through training and restoration.
But what happens when this socalled reformed prisoner tries to reenter the society. Is he now free to starta fresh dignified life or he is again imprisoned by societal hatred andunacceptability?Wehave often observed that when prisoners are released, they do not find it easyto become a productive member of the society. They are denied from employment opportunity,government services, often rejected by their families and looked down as subcitizen with hatred. It turns out to be very challenging to get back into hisordinary life.
Infact sometimes in order to deal with these miseries, he againre-enters the path or crime and wrongs. But is it completely their fault ormakes the society equally responsible for their act? Is the criminal justicesystem serving them justice by denying them their basic human rights? In thispaper we will discuss the various societal challenges and collateral damages faced by theex-offenders and examine how far these are violating their basic rights and putforward various suggestions about how the situation of these neglectedpopulation can improved. CHALLENGES FACED BY EX-OFFENDERS ONREENTERING THE SOCIETYAfterspending decades in prison, when a prisoner finally comes out he is often not acceptedby the society. He needs to undergo counseling sessions but cannot do so due tothe limited resources available to him which makes his situation worse makingit more difficult for him to start over. In order to examine these challengesand their effect on the prisoner we will categorize them into three group –Micro analysis deals with the individual issues, Mezo analysis studies hisrelation to family and other smaller groups while Macro analysis deals withlarger group of people like companies, communities, agencies and even nation. 1. MicroChallenges faced by the offendersIt is often noticed that whenoffenders are released, it becomes difficult for them to secure a job and earna proper livelihood. There can be many reasons for that.
Often we notice thatdue to spending a long term in prison, they are deprived of educational anopportunity which holds them back in the real world. Lack of practical trainingand participation in various activities remains as a bog disadvantage to theseimprisoned people. They often drop out from schools and colleges in order tofinish their term of punishment making their education incomplete. All thsefactors makes it difficult for them to secure a job compared to that of thegeneral population who had easy access to all the education and training. It is also observed that sometimesthe employers are hesitant to hire those who have served imprisonment or committedcrime as they do not feel secure to allow an ex-offender into his workpremises.
They are unsure about their violent behavior and effect on otheremployees. The prominent gap in the resume ofthe convict makes the situation more difficult for him to even getting acceptedfor an interview and hence limits their professional network. In fact their pastexperiences are also not valued much in the light of the offences committed byhim. Sometimes during imprisonment they face physical and metal health issues,bodily injuries, mental disturbances etc. which is later used as an excuse bythe employers to say that they are not ready for job responsibilities. 2.
MezoChallenges faced by the offendersVarious studies have indicated thatconvicts who are in constant contact with their family or have support fromtheir loved ones often show more signs of reformation and do not tend to commitcrime post imprisonment. But in most of the scenario, the prisoners do not getmuch co-operation from their family. Infact sometimes families of theseconvicts suffer a lot of hardships in the society, dejection and hatred, as resultof which they even disown the convict member of the family. In case where the convict was the solebread earner of the family, faces extreme poverty.
Those imprisoned convicts majorityof who are parents often miss out on their children’s crutial growing years asa result of which the relationship with their children is often disturbed andunhealthy. For those who serve lengthy term, without the support from theirfamilies it becomes very difficult for him to cope up with the advancetechnology and societal changes. When the ex-offender returns home,the family often face a mental and financial burden as in the initial days ofreturning back, he is mostly dependent on his family. But in those cases wherefamily denies looking after the ex-offender it becomes miserable for him toreconnect to the world.
3. MacroChallenges faced by the offenders: Macro challenges include various collateralconsequences which are faced not as a part of the punishment but outburst ofgovernment and state’s criminal feeling. These consequences are those which areforced by the law upon the ex offender after his conviction for a criminal wrong.These collateral consequences oftenlimit various social, financial and political rights of the imprisonedindividual.
These practices commonly includedisentitlement from public benefits like lodging and food provided bygovernment at subsidized rates, employment limitations, debarment from militaryservices, community services, banning from jury services and also extraditionin case of non-residents. Irrespective of serving years as aprisoner, they are still looked upon as threats and wrong doers and not givenall the advantages of citizenship. In order to deal with such possible threats,the criminal justice system has come up with the strategy of ‘Parole’ where theprisoner is allowed to return to the society with the guarantee of return toprison if he evades the law in any way. During this term although in theorieshe is set out but often various restrictions are put on them. Such limitationsincludes staying within prescribed geographicalarea, prohibition from keeping forearm, ban from visiting bar or drinkingalcohol, unable to generate driving license or being accountable to frequentsearch warrants etc. any time. Here clearly they are not allowed to live as pertheir own terms but has to adhere with orders passed by the Parole officer.
Thesepractices make the situation worse and often push them to relive the life ofcriminal and not a reformed individual. ANALYZING THE ISSUES WITH THE HELPOF ISSUESTRACING ARUNA SHAUNBAUG’S RAPIST: Thecase of Aruna Shaunbaug, where the victim was left in a vegetative state forover 40 years sparkled the debate of ‘euthanasia’ across the nation. Sohanlal Valmiki, the rapist sodomised her andchoked her with dog chain in such a manner that due to lack of oxygen supply shewent into coma. Sohanlal was charged with assault and robbery but not with rapeand was sentenced for 7 years.1People believe that after 7 years Sohanlal was set free yet Aruna suffered paintill the end of her life.
But today if we examine the life of Sohanlal Valmiki,after his term of imprisonment we can observe that not only the victim but the culpritalso faced immense hardship and societal hatred throughout his life. Variousreports and interviews stated that when Sohanlal was charged with his crime,not only him but his entire family had to go through severe punishment. It wasnoticed that his parents were ashamed to be seen in public, his father avoidedevery argument with the society while his mother mostly stayed at home, hidingher face behind ‘ghoonghat’ as they were accused everywhere in public as theparents of a ‘rapist’. Infact when he was imprisoned, he was married to hiswife for only about 2 years with a few monthsold daughter who passed away at a very young age. His wife had to leave theirhome in Mumbai and shift to Pune as there was insufficient space to live.
His wife wanted to remarry and start a newlife initially as she was pointed out by society for his sins. Hardshipfollowed him even after completion of his 7 years sentence. He was releasedfrom Yerwada jail in 1980 after which he took the job of a sweeper in alocality to earn his bread. But societal questions and pressure did not let himto stay there for long, so he left for his village with his family.
After coming out of jail when he heard aboutthe situation of Aruna Shanbaug and felt guilty about the same. He came out asreformed individual. He gave up on consuming alcohol, smoking bidi and eatingnon-vegetarian food. Aftermoving into his village he wanted to start his life afresh by becoming atailor, but unfortunately he did not have any savings so could not afford asewing machine. So finally he joined a job as a laborer.
He was always afraidthat the contractor might find out who he is and fire him from the only job hehas. People used to stare at him with hatred and shame. Infact his own brotheroften taunted him and threw stones at him with anger and hatred. Scared todeath he finally left his village again with his family and went to Pardavillage to his in-laws. After working there as a laborer he was detected witheyesight issue due to infections.
Doctors recommended him surgery but since hecould not afford it he kept this hidden from his family. Peoplefrom Parda village refer him as a changed man. In his old days he spends mostof the evening with kids, playing with them and telling stories to them. But nomatter what his past never ceased to haunt him.
Years after the incident even today peoplelook down to him and often use illicit language towards him. His own childrenblame him for all the poverty and not being able to live a better life in thecity every day.