Letters to the Editor

Hanging, flogging to support crime fight

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Whatever your view of the origin of man, you will agree with me that government arose, and has continued over millennia, to protect citizens from harm. Without government, civilisation wouldn't be possible. How well or poorly a government protects its citizens testifies to its success or failure possibly more than anything else.

The Andrew Holness Government that took power in February 2016 is a failing Government. For it has sat back and done virtually nothing that will reduce crime.

The daily occurrence of murder is characteristic of a nation in civil war, rather than one with any semblance of law and order. A sampling of murders in the past two weeks in the parish of Clarendon alone is enough to make you quake: Derrick Mitchell, “Balla” from Tollgate, a former policeman who owned a house across from our church, shot dead at a bar in Sandy Bay by gunmen who had come to hold up the business; three people, including a 13-year-old student, shot dead at a shop in Race Course in Vere on August 24; a six-year-old boy and three other men shot dead in the violent community of Farm; and only three days ago another four people were killed, one of them a 12-year-old boy who had just stepped off a truck to urinate in Gimme-me-bit.

By the way, I worked in all these places in the 1980s and they were relatively peaceful.

This is a sampling of the bloodletting in only one parish and things are hardly better across the other parishes.

Now, ask yourself, what Government can claim success with such carnage being wreaked upon its citizens, by its own citizens? Yet the Holness Government will say it has been successful because the economy hasn't collapsed since it took power.

The majority of Jamaicans do not want economic success as much as they want safety of their property and person; for they know that you can't enjoy economic success if you are liable to be murdered or menaced in your own home, or on the street.

What has been the Government's response to the bloodletting? Their plan, like all such plans, is ambitious, especially its promise to punish criminals with urgency — which means reducing the long wait for justice to be given in the courts, and to improve the social conditions that many people believe breed crime.

I bet you if you look at some copies of Government plans gathering dust in some drawer you can see crime prevention plans with the same thoughts. Pardon me, but this plan, like many others before, seems to betray a misunderstanding of the gravity of the crime problem in Jamaica . It doesn't acknowledge that the country is under siege and that severe measures must be taken now.

The place to begin is to resume hanging immediately and shorten the time, as far as resources will allow, between conviction and execution to reduce the possibility of convicts escaping, thereby deterring the committing of murders. Next, the Government will have to begin to treat petty offences and crimes more harshly to discourage those who commit them from graduating to greater ones. We like to admire Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew, but we do not want to consider the harsh measures that he took to pull his country forward, including corporal punishment for a range of petty crimes.

When I was boy in primary and high school in the 70s, we were routinely caned for a range of offences and we were more respectful of our teachers and peers. The society was kinder and gentler. It wouldn't be a bad idea to reintroduce corporal punishment to schools. I'm going to hear that it is barbaric and backward to mention the very idea, but what is barbaric and backward is the plague of murders that is engulfing the island because, due to political correctness, we have abandoned what can prevent them.

The Government's crime strategy could work in the long run, but as John Maynard Keynes was reported to have said: “In the long run we are all dead.”

Ewin James

Longwood, Florida

eroyjames@aol.com

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