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Buddhism: Crime & Punishment

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Buddhism: Crime & Punishment

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  1. Buddhism: Crime & Punishment

  2. Buddhist view on Punishment… • Dhammapada 116 + 117 • ‘If a man does something wrong, let him not do it again. Let him not find pleasure in his sin. Painful is the accumulation of wrongdoings’. • Buddhists believe crime will create negative kamma as it is based on ‘bad roots’ of greed, hatred and ignorance. • Buddhists also see the need to protect society from criminals • The reason we suffer is because of ignorance. As long as we continue to be ignorant we will continue to do unskilful actions. This is why Buddhists use wisdom and compassion when punishing criminals.

  3. Buddhists using the Eightfold Path to justify their actions in relation to punishment… • Right intention and right conduct state that if we do things for the right reasons with no expectation of praise, profit, reward or recognition. If people are treated equally then crime won’t occur. • Suffering comes from the mind. To prevent suffering we need to control the mind. • Buddhists allow punishment such as fines, community service, and prison. • Prison allows a person time to reflect on their actions and protects society from the threat of further crime.

  4. Buddhists using the Eightfold Path to justify their actions in relation to punishment cont… • Right mindfulness and right concentration are also part of the eight fold path. When these are practiced they encourage qualities such as compassion, love, tolerance and self discipline – right view , right speech and right conduct. • Prison encourages rehabilitation and reform. Reforming a criminal through punishment can discourage feelings such as greed, hatred and pride. Education also overcomes ignorance.

  5. Root of problems… • All problems comes from deluded minds • People strive for happiness through material wealth and possessions. Failure to have these things can turn a person to crime. • Buddhists believe we need to see past the crime to the reason/intention behind the action and find a solution. • This is done by encouraging a person to detach from the attractions of material possessions that they crave for. Therefore helping them avoid crime. • Crime does not create happiness – It creates suffering for the victim and the criminal. Crime is done through delusion and Buddhists encourage us to see this and use it to achieve enlightenment.

  6. Buddhism & Deterrence… • Punishment can act as a deterrent to stop criminals from committing another crime and create more negative kamma. • A greater understanding of how kamma affects future rebirth is a form of deterrence as criminals can be afraid to commit crime due to the consequences in future lifetimes as well as the punishment imposed in this lifetime.

  7. Buddhism & Reformation… • All punishment should reform the offender by giving them a second chance and help them generate positive kamma • Some Buddhists work in prisons to help reform criminal. • Angulimala is a Buddhist society that works with prisoners in prison and after release. It is part of a prison chaplaincy service and has established in some prisons areas of contemplation called ‘Buddha Groves’ – this is areas of peaceful thoughts to encourage criminals to reflect on their lifestyles and see how they can change through compassion for others.

  8. Buddhism and Retribution… • Buddhists don’t agree that a person should receive a punishment that gives them unnecessary suffering • Buddhists also don’t agree with heavy penalties being placed on a poor person who can’t pay this • They also oppose suffering to the family of the criminal who may be burdened with having to pay large fines or travel far to visit their family member in prison • These actions would violate right conduct and right mindfulness (not showing compassion for others or doing right actions to help others) • Buddhism teaches that we are not perfect and we should not sit in judgement of others

  9. Tasks… • Read pages 19-23 from your core booklet • What do Buddhists believe is the cause of our suffering? • What conditions need to occur for crime to not happen? (Hint: page 19) • What forms of punishment are acceptable to Buddhists? • How do Buddhists see prison as a way to encourage rehabilitation? • How can a Buddhist say that all our problems come from a deluded mind? • Why do Buddhists think it is important to see behind the crime? • How can punishment act as a deterrent in Buddhism? • Why should punishment be used to reform a criminal? • What types of punishment do Buddhists not agree with and relate this to an understanding of the eightfold path (Hint: page 22)

  10. Tasks cont… • Describe the objectives of Angulimala’s Prison Service Chaplaincy Organisation (Hint: Pages 22) • Retell the Buddhist scripture story of Angulimala. Describe how this story shows us how we should treat criminals through the Buddha’s example. (SEE HANDOUT for the story) • Briefly explain the Buddhist views on the four purposes of punishment. (See pages 22-23)