– CRIMES –
Every community in the world recognises certain activities as crimes. Because of this, each has developed its own way of dealing with crimes and has chosen a number of different punishments to match them. So, society identifies crimes, administers justice, and then imposes suitable punishments. It is surprising, however, how much the various societies of the world differ in the areas of crimes, justice and punishment. What may be crimes in one country is often perfectly acceptable in another.
For example, as you may know, jaywalking, that is, not crossing the road at the proper crossing place, is illegal in areas of the world such as North America, but in other areas, quite legal. As well as deciding what is legal and what is illegal, societies must also decide whether a crime is petty or serious. For example, carrying a gun is a very serious offence in some countries, but a very petty one in others.
Similarly, the ways of administering justice differ from country to country. In some countries a person is considered innocent until he is proved guilty, but in others the opposite is true. In other words, in the former it is the job of the authorities to prove that the person has committed a crime whereas in the latter it is the individual’s task to prove his innocence.
Crimes vary, systems of justice vary, but the greatest variation between countries is in the methods of punishment that they use. For example, a person convicted of theft in some parts of the Middle East might face a severe penalty, whereas the same crime would receive a relatively lenient punishment in some Scandinavian countries.
In Denmark Prison, they provide a good example of the more lenient approach to crime and punishment. About half the people sent to Denmark prison there go to what is called an ‘open prison’. In these Denmark prisons, the inmates are allowed to wear their own clothes, provide their own food, bring in their own furniture and have their own radios or television in the cell. They are not locked in their cells at night, although each prisoner is given a key to his own cell and can lock the door at night if he wishes. Most open prisons in Denmark prisons also have special rooms where prisoners can entertain friends, husbands or wives unsupervised, in privacy and comfort, for at least an hour a week. After four weeks in a Danish open prison, a prisoner is normally entitled to a ‘holiday’ outside the prison. Usually he is allowed out of prison for one weekend every three weeks. Of course, Denmark prisoners do not have to leave the prison every three weeks – they can save up their weekends away and take a break of up to eight days if they prefer. Prisoners in open prisons in Denmark are also allowed out for a whole range of activities such as buying clothes, visiting the doctor or simply going for a walk with their visitors. If a prisoner needs to leave the prison for educational purposes – attending a course or receiving technical training – then, in certain circumstances, he may be allowed to spend the night outside the prison.
A. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. Every society has a different way of dealing with crimes.
2. An individual has to prove his innocence wherever he lives.
3. The method of punishment is the biggest difference between countries.
4. Theft is severely punished in Scandinavia.
5. Nearly half of Denmark’s population lives in open prisons.
6. In some Danish prisons uniforms are not required.
7. Prisoners in Denmark can spend the night outside prison any time they want to.
B. Find words or phrases in the text that mean the same as the following.
1. not crossing the road at the proper place (paragraph 2):
2. crime (paragraph 2):
3. not guilty (paragraph 3):
4. punishment (paragraph 4):
5. prisoners (paragraph 4):
6. having the right to do something (paragraph 6): being
1. In what way does Denmark differ from some Middle Eastern countries?
2. How long does a Danish prisoner have to spend in prison before he can go out for the first time?
3. Write two kinds of activities that Danish prisoners can go out for