At the center of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is the sensational murder of Fyodor Karamazov. With the ensuing trial, the novel questions the possibility of an earthly justice, a notion of justice without the guiding influence of religious authority and divine law. The court systems in the novel are demonstrated to be weak at their core. The wrong man is found guilty by an incompetent jury that is easily manipulated by lawyers for the prosecution. His punishment – exile to Siberia – is hardly likely to offer him any hope of being anything other than a criminal for the rest of his life. In contrast, the novel stresses the importance of a religious ideal of justice, in which everyone accepts guilt for everyone else (see our discussion of the theme of "Guilt and Blame"), and religion provides the moral guidance that alone can provide a criminal a chance to mend his ways.
Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov shows that reform of a criminal is actually inspired by religious faith, not by any form of punishment from the courts.
Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is skeptical of trials by jury because they offer so much room for biased interpretation of the facts.