Prison Reform in Russia and Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The novel Crime and Punishment occurs in the summer of 1865; a time when radical legal and social changes swept through Russia. The reforms of 1860’s and 1870’s were known as the Great Reforms because they affected every aspect of Russian life. With “an 1861 decree emancipating the serfs and [a] monumental reform of the court system in 1864,” the Russian society was still transitioning from an Estate-of-the-realm style toward a more just system focused on equality (Burnham 1227). The reformed penal system is not just under the modern sense of justice, yet it provided a far greater level of equality than the previous model, dominated by aristocrats and government officials. Lagging behind a few years, Russia was following the…show more content…
Dostoevsky insist Raskolnikov cannot be satisfied with himself without a formal confession to the authorities; thus, linking self-satisfaction with the justice system illustrates that Dostoevsky believes the true nature of the criminal justice system should be to rehabilitate rather than to maim and toss away. According to William Burnham, the law around the time of Crime and Punishment “required confessions [to] be voluntary, consistent with the factual circumstances of the case, and be judicial” in order to be applicable evidence (1236). Porfiry probes Raskolnikov for this three-prong confession routinely (Porfiry almost certainly knows Raskolnikov committed the crime, but he cannot prove it). Quoting an English proverb, Porfiry says, “a hundred rabbits will never make a horse, a hundred suspicions will never make a proof” (Dostoevsky 452). Raskolnikov’s calculations and covering of evidence show the ease with which he hid the evidence from the investigation. Porfiry merely checks the blatant locations: Raskolnikov’s apartment. The office’s shallow ability to search for clues represents the entire justice system’s inability to be effective. Dostoevsky criticizes the criminal justice system because while it is doing what people like, arresting criminals, it is avoiding its true purpose: turning crooks back into citizens. The system is very similar to Porfiry; while he is a very likeable

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