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In Iran, a Judge is Sentencing Criminals to Buy and Read Books

In September of 2015, BBC  reported that Iranian Judge Qasem Naqizadeh of the north-eastern city of Gonbad-e Kavus was implementing a new form of sentencing for convicted criminals. His sentence requires criminals to buy and read five books, including a saying from the hadith (a report on the life and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), write a summary of them, and then give the book to the judge, who then donates the books to a local prison. The judge’s alternative sentencing was made possible by “a recently adopted law” in which “judges are able to decide alternative punishments to prison in some cases.”

According to the Iranian news agency, IRNA, the state has been trying to reduce prison populations. Most of the alternative sentencing is being used in place of jail time for teenagers, those with no history of criminal activity or those convicted of minor crimes.

Judge Qasem Naqizadeh deplored the “irreversible” damage of jail time on criminals and their families. The judge and his supporters believe the literary sentencing will provide a number of positive changes. It aims to deter criminals from committing future crimes, to reduce the population of local prisons by providing education and raising awareness, and to generally make a positive impact on the criminals’ lives.  In addition, IRNA reports that reading in prison seems to alleviate violence amongst those incarcerated. 

The alternative form of sentencing is still up and running, a good sign for all involved!  

Featured image courtesy of BBC.