Judicial Issues in Chapman’s “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”
World history recounts many differences between the East and the West. In spite of the consideration that both are unique in their own culture and tradition, the issue on who is better and more civilized still remains. In “The Prisoner’s Dilemma,” Stephen Chapman compares and contrasts Eastern and Western punishment practices under the criminal justice system. In his view, the Western claim that their practices are less cruel and barbaric is contestable owing to the issues related to the multiple years of incarceration.
To elaborate his view, Chapman compares the punishment methods used in Eastern and Western countries. He mentions some punitive practices among Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Among these practices include flogging, or ta zir, a punishment usually given for general offenses. This form of punishment, among others, is endorsed by the Koran itself. Another practice is stoning, which is usually bestowed upon individuals who are found to be adulterous or who engage in non-marital sex.
This form of punishment causes severe injury to offenders, causing their deaths. In the website Religious Tolerance. org, several reports on stoning show how Islamic countries apply this practice in varied terms. One report describes how a man dies ten minutes after being stoned while his alleged partner is hit by a large rock on the head after stoning. In addition to these two methods, Islamic countries also apply amputation, beheading, and other forms of execution. Considering these, Chapman contends that Islamic ways of punishment are some forms of “barbaric rituals. (364)
Aside from their hideous method of exterminating criminals, what makes these methods seem more barbaric and cruel is the gathering of the crowd that gawks at the offender’s misfortunes. As Chapman illustrates, Westerners smirk at these practices and claim that theirs are far more humanitarian. In the West, criminals are sentenced to prison for varying number of years based on the gravity of the offense. For instance, Chapman elaborates that a person charged with robbery can be sentenced to six or 30 years imprisonment under the Western judicial system.
Based on this, the author implies that a general offense which merits one-time flogging in Islamic countries can cost a person’s lifetime in the West. Moreover, he also cites that with the long trials that each case takes and the cost of maintaining a penitentiary, the government spends too much on procuring justice for the victims. Moreover, the author inductively cites that the practices in the East were the same ones practiced in the West during earlier times.
He mentions some cases where criminals were cut in several parts, and tortured by bearing off internal organs while the criminal is in conscious state. Given these former practices, Chapman convinces the readers to reconsider Islamic practices such as those mentioned, which are less grotesque than former Western practices. To convince his readers, Chapman uses both comparison and contrast between the two cultures. Mostly, he gives the contrast, emphasizing more the practicality of the Eastern culture in dealing with punishments.
Also, by establishing comparison and claiming that Western civilization once employed even worse practices of amputation, the author appeals to the logic of the readers to assert the issue with valid reasoning. Clearly, Chapman uses logic or logos in his comparison and contrast. He attempts to convince the audience that Western practices are just as evil as the Eastern ones. By impeding criminals to prison, they are likewise subjected to overcrowding, illness, filthy conditions, and routine violence.
Sentencing a criminal to life in the prison cells is similar to subjecting him to eventual death or to sacrifices similar to flogging. Also, as mentioned above, keeping criminals in prison implies a big government funding, for the government will have to feed and clothe the prisoners, and hire authorities to look after them. Likewise, Chapman claims that prisons do not serve their purpose for detaining individuals. To illustrate his point, he mentions the five functions of imprisonment. Among these functions, Chapman emphasizes that detention does not serve the third function, which is general deterrence.
Although some may be afraid to go to jail, the thought of it does not totally threaten criminals to make them avoid ill-doings. The present crime rate demonstrates that in truth, offenders are not afraid to go against the law, thus making others like the author skeptical about the observance of the third function. Conversely, he notes that encountering a man with just one arm could bring more shrill to those who are trying to plot a crime. In addition, the author also points out that imprisonment does not serve its fifth function, that is rehabilitation.
Keeping criminals behind bars and making them face the consequence of acquiring infectious diseases is far from rehabilitative. For others, this function may only be served if criminals are given a better living condition or are endowed by a beautiful experience, such as allowing them to get married, to undergo counseling and psychotherapy, or giving them a job or a vacation (Menninger as mentioned in Chapman 368-369). Considering the disadvantages of imprisonment, sentencing a criminal to keep him from contact with the public seems to be the only consolation that incarceration brings.
In addition to logos, the author also uses pathos by citing the dilemma experienced by offenders and victims alike. The long wait for the court to give its sentence is one aspect that causes much shame to Western judicial system. While the case is in process, the victims undergo torment seeing the criminal spend days in freedom. The truth and relevance of this point makes this the subject of TV and film courtroom drama. The same agitation may be true for the criminals or those who are charged but innocent of the crime. As justice is prolonged, so is the torment that the concerned individuals suffer.
The use of logos and pathos in establishing comparison and contrast is likewise accompanied by ethos as the article appears in the textbook. The article’s introduction includes a simple biography of the author, telling his achievements as a writer and a Harvard University graduate. This establishes credibility of the author, thus affecting the audience’s stance on the matter. While the logos and pathos that Chapman uses are quite weak to defy religious values, the ethos somewhat helps convince the audience that the words they are reading come from a knowledgeable and well-experienced source.
Overall, the points made by the author show his partiality to Western practices. He tries to convince the audience to favor Eastern practices due to their practicality and immediacy. Considering his point, authorities should look into the possibility of adopting these practices; however considering too how people react to changes, Chapman’s proposition may fail to convince many people, especially those who advocate love and reverence for the body.