If all are equal before the law, then all prisoners are also equal before the law. But according to the happenings in the prisons of Bangladesh, it seems that the term equal must be freshly redefined, as some prisoners seem to be more equal than others. In fact, there seems to be a huge disparity in the living standards of some of the ‘high profile’ (read moneyed) prison inmates compared to the ordinary prisoners.
Often prisoners are able to live a life of comfort and luxury obtaining almost anything they want even inside the jail, if they have the money to bribe the prison staffs and guards. We’ve heard fables about jailed inmates running their outside operations – illegal businesses, gangs and criminal activities from within. Apparently, it is not far from the truth.There is no point in enclosing criminals if their criminal activities cannot be stopped. The government spends millions for the upkeep of the prisoners in jail. It is to ensure that serving their sentences will reform the characters of criminals so that they can eventually assimilate in the society as law abiding citizens. But due to corrupt jail staff, the entire criminal reform system falls apart. Those who are supposed to help in the reform process of the criminals are themselves getting embroiled in corruptions.
There is a trend for ‘influential’ prisoners to get admitted into government hospitals for various ailments. Even after prolonged treatment they remain hospitalised receiving visitors, home food and generally living like VIPs with prison guards in attendance in the hospital. This makes a farce of our justice system. When a criminal can avail almost anything from cellphones to home food while remaining in jail, then it cannot be likened to a punishment but rather a glorified time-out for rest and recuperation.
If this kind of double standards persists in the jails of our country, the criminals will also continue with their modus operandi of illegal activities. To establish law and order in the country, to bring about the desired change in the system, to fulfil the expectations of the people for justice, the justice system must be above reproach and equal for all.
We must change ourselves first, before bringing the desired change in the system. Let us reform the system to establish law, order and justice.