Issue alternative punishment for misdemeanors

Issue alternative punishment for misdemeanors

Abdulaziz Al-Suwayed

Abdulaziz Al-Suwayed

RULER of Dubai Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid recently ordered three  men who tortured a helpless cat to carry out community service for four hours a day at a zoo for three consecutive months. The three men were found guilty of feeding a cat to two dogs and capturing everything on video.

I do not remember the last time a judge in the Kingdom issued an alternative punishment to prison, flogging or fines. In fact, Saudi courts have issued few alternative punishments. Frankly speaking, I cannot remember when they were made and in which court and region. I do know that people were very excited and happy when they read about alternative punishment.

Such punishment is important and can lead to positive results. Young men commit most misdemeanors and sending them to prison leads to our prisons becoming overcrowded. As a result, people convicted of minor offences intermingle with hardened criminals serving time for serious crimes such as drug dealing. This leads to minor offenders coming out of prison as hardened criminals.

It is not known why our judges only issued a few alternative punishments and then stopped even though the number of misdemeanors in the Kingdom is increasing. Take a look at social media websites and you will see a lot of crime on video.

Alternative punishment is effective. For example, a poacher could be ordered to clean public areas and zoos; people who chop down trees could be ordered to plant, trim and prune a large number of trees and even help municipal workers landscape gardens. Of course, these offenders should also be fined. However, to insure the implementation of an alternative punishment system, we need to have a system in place and assign officials to make sure that the court sentences are implemented and complied with.

There are a large number of young Saudis who use their cars for drifting and engage in dangerous behavior on our roads. Many people are injured and die while doing these stunts. Judges could hand down alternative punishment to young people who drift and order them to take care of those injured in these stunts.