Crime and Punishment:
There was almost no crime in the Inca Empire.
Inca laws were very harsh. Punishment was swift.
If you insulted the Inca, cursed the gods, or
committed a murder, you were thrown off a cliff.
If you were caught stealing or cheating, you
either had your hands and feet cut off.
There were lesser punishments. You could be
stoned. You could be tied to a wall and left to freeze.
If you lived through your punishment, you were
classified as a criminal, and you became a ward of the state. The state
took care of you. They clothed and fed you. In the Inca Empire,
everybody had a job. Your job as a criminal was to tell others about
your crime. That was your job for the rest of your life.
Every day, criminals were taken to the city gates and assigned a
begging bowl. As people passed by, criminals had to announce their
crimes. If their stories were interesting, people would toss food or
small trinkets into the begging bowls. That way, each criminal could
prove how many people had stopped to listen as they confessed their
crimes. And the people had daily reminders of what would happen to them
if they broke the law.
You might wonder why the criminals did not run
away. Run away where? The common people were not allowed on the roads.
But even if they were, the
military guarded the gates to the cities. They kept an eye on the
criminals begging by the gate. Any criminal who tried to run away was
captured and killed.