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The disadvantages of prisons

Adopted from the book: "The rights of prisoners according to Islamic teachings" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"

The harm and the damages of imprisonment can be seen in various domains; such as political, social, economic, educational, health, etc.

Political Harm

Imprisonment causes psychological complexes for the prisoner, which in turn brings about his hatred towards the people and the state. As for the state, he would regard it as an oppressive and tyrannical force, and on this basis he would act to destroy anything that is associated with it and bring about its downfall.

As for the people, a complex-driven individual would dislike all the people since he considers them as having failed to help him, for it is rare that a criminal considers himself of being guilty. For example a thief considers himself as being forced to steal since he did not have enough money to live on, whereas he see the rich steal the money of the poor through phoney laws.

Such as the Usurper of others' property, he who betrays something given to him in trust for safe keeping by denying it, negligent physicians, he who does not pay for his wife's expenses, giving false alibi.

Other political disadvantages of imprisonment are: some of the prisoners would train others in crime, corruption, mischief, etc. since, given the extra time they have in prison, each will convey their experience in crimes to other prisoners, and this is seen in most prisons throughout the world.

Social Harm

As for social harm, they are numerous too:

1. the prisoner thinks that he has fallen from the community, and that society has expelled him, and for such reasons he turns against society in all his conducts, and therefore he turns from being a useful member of society to a harmful one.

2. imprisonment of the head of a family is not without effect on the family, for the family is affected socially, materially and psychologically, and may fall from being dignified members of society.

3. both sides of the family may suffer from or fall into immoral conducts concerning sexual matters. The prisoner has his own sexual needs and consequently, may fall into practicing homosexual acts. As for the family of prisoner, they too may engage in immoral sexual practices to satisfy their sexual needs, if not to earn means of living.

Economic Harm

As for economic harm, this is caused by the inability of the prisoner to engage in his normal occupation to earn his living. Not only has he not earned the money he usually generates, but the family loses that income too, which in turn lead the family to poverty and its dire consequences. We have in a hadith, "Poverty is a shame in both worlds" 22 And it is reported that Abu Tharr al-Ghifari 23 said, "it bewilders me how the poor do not revolt against the rich with their swords."

i.e. in this world and in the hereafter. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 69, p 30 Abu Dharr al-Ghefari was one of the most prominent and loyal companions of Prophet Muhammad salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih, who was known for his sincerity and honesty. After the death of the Prophet, he also became known for his brave criticism of wrong actions or policies of the government, and for his standing up to tyrant and despot rulers of his time.

Educational Harm

In this respect, the prisoner could potentially be denied the opportunity to continue his studies and graduate from university. The consequences of this is two fold; first it causes his failure in society, where he sees his colleagues have successfully managed to graduate from universities, which in turn could bring about his hatred towards society, and therefore create his desire to seek revenge from it. Secondly it brings down the general level of education in society, and enhances ignorance and immorality in the society.

Health Harm

As for health harm, this is as a result of the anxieties and psychological complexes that he may develop, for they develop into physical and mental illnesses, and it is proven that mental illness could lead to physical illness and vice versa. Other examples of health harm are the anger a prisoner creates amongst his relatives when they see his state, depression, and anxieties,

the problems caused amongst the prisoners themselves, since they become more irritable when they lose hope of life and aspiration, the spread of drug abuse inside prisons, and its consequences, the spread of gambling inside the prison, since they have much time to kill, causing further anxiety, and hatred.

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