"Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government."
"Just because the power is out doesn't mean we unplug the constitution."
"Crimes were committed to punish crimes, and crimes were committed to prevent crimes. "
"A lawyer is a gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it for himself. "
"Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides and eat cotton candy"
‘We are an 18th century (police) force operating in the 21st century’
“To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” ~Voltaire.
The judicial process takes years. It exposes the divides between class. We have blamed the people, the State and the system. The law, we are told, can only do so much. At the most, it can provide a sense of justice. That helps. But justice is also social. And political. It is also elusive, and in its absence, it taints the memory with despair.
Public safety depends on building trust, increasing mental health and drug addiction treatment, and using alternatives to prosecution and incarceration.
To be sure, there were also theocratic institutions (religious temples, magic rituals, grand viziers), but these were probably used as a system of appeals (sanctuary, refuge) and for purposes not associated with justice. Since war has existed, the police function has been somewhat inseparable from the military function as ancient rulers almost always kept elite, select units (bodyguards) close at hand to protect them from threats and assassination attempts, and although it was more theocratic than militaristic, the argument could be made that the first known civilization (Egypt) was a police state.
In Mesopotamia, the rise of cities like Uruk, Umma, Eridu, Lagash, and Ur is widely regarded as the "birth of civilization". However, these cities were in a state of constant warfare, and in terms of looking at which residents bore the closest resemblance to police officers, the argument could be made that captured Nubian slaves were the first police force. This group was often put to work as marketplace guards, Praetorian guards, or in other mercenary-like positions. As a police force, their different color, stature, and manner of dress made them quite visible among the Mesopotamians. The idea of visibility could then be regarded as the first principle of crime control.
With the rise of the city-states came forms of criminal justice that could be considered as king's policing. It's conventional to note that things like the Code of Hammurabi marked the first known system of criminal law as well as the start of other practices. The Hebrews developed the Mosaic Law and a rudimentary adverse verdana system. The Greeks experimented with highway patrol and jury trials (Athens) as well as secret police and mercenary systems (Sparta). Across Africa, trials were being conducted while sitting down (three-legged stools of justice). Violators were brought before thrones of justice in the name of the crown, and to keep the peace meant, for the most part, keeping the king's peace of mind. Greek philosophy (Aristotle, Plato) was largely responsible for popularizing the majesty of justice by associating good law and order with virtue.
It's widely recognized that the first organized police force were the Roman vigiles, the first group of nonmilitary and non-mercenary police. the urban cohorts were supplemented by nighttime cohorts, and there were several thousand of them, recruited and selected from among freedmen only. They were known as the vigiles (watchmen) of Rome, and were empowered not only to fight fires but to arrest law breakers. The prefect of the vigiles eventually became a powerful man, passing judgment on most lawbreakers, except for serious lawbreakers who had to be turned over to the prefect of the urban cohorts. The vigiles were armed with clubs as well as short swords. They eventually took over the duties of the urban cohorts.
MIDDLE AGES (400 A.D. - 1600 A.D.)
The middle ages either had no system of law enforcement or one of two systems, depending upon what part of the world you were in. Where law enforcement existed, it was most likely a variety of the watch system -- a system premised on the importance of voluntarily patrolling the streets and guarding cities from sunset to sunrise ("2 A.M. and all's well"). The predominant function of policing became class control (keeping watch on vagrants, vagabonds, immigrants, gypsies, tramps, thieves, and outsiders in general). Despite some innovations during this time period (the Magna Carta of 1215 being a notable example), most of this era was characterized by lawlessness and corruption. By the 1500s, there was no country in the world with more robbers, thieves, and prostitutes than England.
"At any given time anyone of us could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up in prison. All human beings, regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they have done should be treated with respect and dignity. No individual has the right to judge others." a corrections officer
"My hands and legs were tied; a wooden stick was passed through my legs. They started beating me badly on the legs with lathis [batons] and kicking me. They beat me until I was crying and shouting for help. When I was almost fainting, they stopped the beating... Then they turned me upside down... They poured water from a plastic jug into my mouth and nose, and I fainted,"
"Low-ranking officers often work in difficult conditions. They are required to be on-call 24 hours a day, every day. Instead of shifts, many work long hours, sometimes living in tents or filthy barracks at the police station. Many are separated from their families for long stretches of time. They often lack necessary equipment, including vehicles, mobile phones, investigative tools and even paper on which to record complaints and make notes."
Between 1994 and 2008, India’s National Human Rights Commission recorded the custodial deaths of 16,836 people. That is an average of 1,203 people every year. The New Delhi-based Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR) asserts that the number of custodial deaths has been rising year after year, climbing from 1,037 in 2001 to 1,977 in 2008.
Police, by the very nature of their functioning, are the most visible arm of the state. A policeman is seen as a symbol of state power and as an agent of coercion and retribution; and not as a friend and protector of the people. In a fundamental sense, the first and most vital function of the state is maintenance of public order and peace in society and ensuring protection of citizens. A police station should be a place of protection but instead it feels extremely unsafe and unwelcoming, a place most people want to avoid. Most of us have plenty of freedom where we are, but throughout the world their are others who are crying out for justice.
Beating, torture and illegal arrests are common, so common that complaints about them are few. India's police institution facilitates and even encourages abuses. It says there has been little change in attitudes, training or equipment since the police was formed in colonial times with the aim to control the population. The Indian Police Act in use today was written in 1861 by the British Empire whose primary use of the police was to protect their commercial interests against the rising tide of nationalism. The earlier police commissions before 1947 felt that an ordinary constable is not meant to think and take decisions.
Since 1902 little has changed. The Police Act of 1861still guides and governs our police system. The colonial mindset of the police, the distrust people had for the police in British India has continued to date.
So far we have seen either foolish reforms or no reforms in making the police relevant in modern democratic and highly insecure world.
Global average ratio for police-population is 270, whereas it’s 120 for 100,000 in India. With far less police – ill trained, ill equipped and most of them are posted to protect the politicians, people of India are the least secure (most vulnerable) people in the world.
Even after spate of terrorist attacks on our major cities, the political class is less willing to loosen its grip on the police and let it ‘serve’ the people. The efforts to beef up security apparatus, strengthen the intelligence gathering ability, bring about coherence and coordination between different police and security agencies, modernizing the police force, enabling our cities with infrastructure to deter terrorist attacks, and most importantly making police people friendly – all these necessities have been met with lackadaisical attitude of political authorities and are mired in red-tapism.
Each MLA seeks Circle Inspector and Sub Inspectors of his choice to be posted in his constituency. The caste, allegiance, amount of bribes, attitude towards people of MLA’s community, and ‘flexibility’ are the characters that determine posting of a policeman. At the state level, senior Police officers are promoted to serve the ‘needs’ of the ruling party. To go ‘slow’ on certain cases, to thwart investigation, to ‘deal’ with political opponents, to ‘handle’ underworld businesses – police are needed for the politicians.