Capital punishment debate

WHEN my father was born the Nazi party was already in charge of Germany. It was a political movement that preached racial superiority, intolerance, and open violence towards minorities.

During the lifetime of my cousin, who is only five years older than I, blacks in the United States could not legally vote. That right only became guaranteed after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

In my lifetime, blacks in South Africa were not allowed to vote, participate in political representation, or move freely across their own country. That only ended when I was an adult in 1993 with the end of apartheid, and I am a middle-aged man.

The point I am trying to make is that equality and justice are relatively new realities, comparatively speaking, about 60 years old in mass application and in total application about 30 years — the market being when the South Africa apartheid Government was removed. That was the world's last rogue State.

So this is really recent when you consider that man has occupied this planet in our present form for about 12,000 years.

True justice is new, and more importantly, fragile. It is very dependent on the judiciary to be fair, logical and genuine.

In recent times there have been calls by political leaders, to include Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Senator Saphire Longmore, to resume capital punishment. This is significantly motivated by the recent violence against children.

The justice system knows that it is not perfect — none is. That's just life. No system is perfect.

Once it is accepted that the justice system is imperfect, then it can't be giving out sentences that they can't reverse. It's that simple.

I am not saying the criminals don't deserve it. If there was a perfect system that could guarantee the guilt of all persons convicted of murder or crimes with guns I would have no problem with them being executed. But that perfect system does not exist.

So would the resumption of the death penalty assist in a massive reduction in crime to include murders?

I don't think so... not in the way it would be applied. It would be too rare and it would be too private.

Death has to be a likely possibility if it is to serve as a true preventative to commiting crime.

So if you were to hang 40 convicted gun offenders in one day and let the public know you had done so, that could serve as a deterrent. It would also be deserved.

However, is our system perfect? It is one of the fairest but is it perfect? It's not.

The question could be asked why must it be perfect before it is used to kill? That's because life is the ultimate, and the justice system cannot and must not do anything that may be wrong. Why? Because it is the last bastion of justice. It is also truly genuine.

Every action, though complicated, has its history in a good intention — a desire to be good, even perfect.

This is the only reason that it can't do what is required. It simply can't because it's not reversible.

The crime solution of the future most be logical, it must be geared to a preventative strategy, and it must satisfy victims who desire retribution for the pain they have suffered. But until we have a perfect judiciary we can't kill.

We expect high standards from our police force and our army, but our judiciary, that's next level.

So how can true retribution be achieved for those who have been killed?

That is the question that makes persons call for the death penalty because truly, that is what is deserved.

An eye for an eye is justice, true justice, but the judiciary can't be the one to make it happen.

Can there ever be any other punishment reasonable to punish those who kill — particularly those who kill children — other than death? No. Only death is a true punishment for someone who takes a life.

It's also a fitting punishment for those who rape, commit armed robbery, and make their money on the backs of human suffering.

What is the chance that the judiciary could get it wrong? This varies based on country.

Our system is more geared towards ensuring that innocent people don't get wrongly convicted. It's not victim-centred. So we would likely get it right, but what if we didn't?

DNA as a scientific tool has showed the world how many times innocent persons have been convicted.

We will never know how many innocent people were executed, but we know there have been some.

State-ordered killing, although right and deserved, is not the solution because, and only because, there is a chance of an error, one you can't reverse.

Peace lies in the ability to find a system to prevent murder. This is where the effort must be generated towards.

Save innocent lives irrespective of how many criminal rights you have to breach.

That is where our extremism should be going.


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