B) Split into groups of 5-6 students and assign the roles of the panel

c) Before the beginning of the panel read the following selections carefully and extract the necessary information:

— It's a time-honoured misconception that the stricter the punishment, the lesser the crime rate. This misconception has long been debated by history and science. Law cannot, and must not take revenge: punishment is not an end in itself, but a means of restoring social justice. It's a tool for re-education. This concept should form the guidelines of the new legislation.

— Law is developing: it has no impunity in the court of time. A number of offences should be altogether excluded from the criminal law since administrative measures are quite suffi­cient against them. Say a driver violates some traffic regula­tions, and in the accident no one is hurt...

— Unjust law warps and handicaps a nation's morale. Re­member when in the not-so-distant past families of the "ene­mies of the people" hurriedly renounced their relations fully aware that the charges were false.

— We used to say that we had neither drug addiction nor prostitution. As long as there were no such problems any legal responsibility was out of the question. Now it is widely claimed that we need criminal laws against both drug addiction and prostitution.

— Could we make, say, prostitution a criminal offence? What could the evidence be? Who could bear witness?

— The violation of law would be extremely difficult to prove and the punishment would necessarily be selective.

— Some would be charged, others would be spared, and a selective application of law is arbitrary rule.

— But the real problem is elsewhere. Is immorality a breach of law? Don't we have to distinguish between a moral and a criminal code? I think we must be weary of the naive desire to make law relieve us of the pains of responsible choice. If every act were dictated by an article of the Criminal Code, rather than one's conscience and moral sense, human beings would become legal objects.

— Prostitution should be fought but the judges should be kept out of it.

— Drug addiction should not entail legal prosecution. Otherwise we may be in for disastrous consequences. People would be afraid to solicit medical help; it would be an impene­trable wall between the drug addicts and those who are able to save them.

— Are changes to come in the types of punishment?

— The reformatory function of jail is little-more than fic­tion. Rather the opposite is true. The first "jolt" makes an in­veterate criminal who won't stay in society for long.



— Even in an ideal penitentiary — if such could be imag­ined — serving one's time causes serious problems. A cooped-up individual loses friends, family, profession, familiar environ­ment and finds himself or herself a member of a group that is anything but healthy.

— But that's not the whole story. Imprisonment, particularly if it is prolonged, undermines one's capacity to make decisions, to control oneself. Set free after long years in jail, one is unfit for freedom, normal life seems incomprehensible and unbear­able. One might be unconsciously drawn to the habitual way of life. Around 30 per cent of former inmates are brought back behind bars after new offences, and half of them during their first year at large.

— According to sociologists, less than 5 per cent of those sentenced for the first time consider their life in the colony as "normal", whereas the correspondent figure for those serving a second sentence (or more) is 40 per cent.

— New penitentiary principles must be introduced. It is real as well as imperative. I believe the solution lies with a differentiation between convicts and separate confinement according to different categories. First time offenders should be kept separately from those with long "case histories"; convicts serving time for particularly grave crimes must not mix with petty delinquents.

— Another urgent problem is that of the maximum term of confinement. Scholars propose that the maximum serving time envisaged by the code and by each article be reduced.

— The legal profession and sociologists know that the arrest itself, the curtailing of personal freedom, is increasingly perceived as the greatest shock by the offender. It is a traumatic, shameful psychological experience. Hence, petty delinquency, such as hooliganism, should entail not a year or two in jail but up to 6 months in a detention home.



d) The following issues are to be discussed:

1. Ifevery act were dictated by an article of the Criminal Code rather than one's conscience and moral sense, human beings would become mere legal objects.

2. Punishment is not an end in itself, but a means of restor­ing social justice. It's a tool for re-education.

3. Should drug-addiction entail legal prosecution?

4. The reformatory function of imprisonment is little more than fiction.

Write an article (3 paragraphs). In the newspaper to contribute to the discussion of a new Criminal Code. The topic can be chosen from the list of the problems given in exercise 9 (d).


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