Kristen Gyles | Lifeline for the death penalty? | Remark


“I don’t believe in the death penalty, but for that I would make an exception: anyone found with a gun should start with the death penalty. »* The audience applauds *

The Prime Minister then asks his audience to forgive him for the hyperbolic expression.

I’m curious to hear what the Prime Minister really meant, excluding hyperbole and all. Sometimes the power of a “but” is so great that it gives even the most problematic claims a 180 degree turn. It’s a powerful tool when you realize you’re saying something you really don’t want to say. In the case of the Prime Minister’s assertion at the recent Jamaican Labor Party’s 78th anniversary conference, I couldn’t help but think that for anyone who doesn’t believe in the death penalty, the Prime Minister seems to like the death penalty very much.

I mean, if we supported a death penalty for people found with an illegal gun, exactly what category of criminals would they not support the death penalty for? I shudder at the idea that those found with an illegal firearm would face the death penalty, by justice standards, but not those convicted of murder, rape or carnal abuse.

I don’t believe in the death penalty either, and I also have a “but”. If we ever enforce the death penalty, Jamaica will first have to address the glaring inefficiencies and other shortcomings of its own justice system. When people suspected of having been found with illegal firearms can convincingly state that the weapons were placed on them by police officers and that evidence is indeed provided in the affirmative, we should not even have any evidence. conversations about the death penalty.

In the United States, with much more advanced technologies that increase the availability of real and demonstrative evidence and reduce the reliance on such evidence as testimony, one in 25 death row inmates are wrongly accused and executed by the state. That’s a big enough margin for error to take someone’s life. Jamaica, with a governance system perceived to be much more corrupt and much less efficient, must not resort to knee-jerk reactions to tackling crime that will only make matters worse.


I also use the word crime fighting quite loosely, because killing killers as punishment for their murder is not crime fighting.

If I am to be blunt, I think that as a society we suffer from just as little respect for life as the criminals themselves. This explains why we believe that a few innocent people shot down by the state after a false conviction is a reasonable price to pay for “trying” a supposed crime-fighting tactic to see if it will lower our crime statistics. This point of view has indeed been expressed and naturally, if one supports the death penalty, they clearly do so despite the number of innocent people who are doomed to have their lives unjustly taken away. (But that won’t matter until this man is a close relative).

Of course, some are quick to point out that “wah nuh guh suh, near guh suh”, and that innocent people do not end up in questionable circumstances. The truth is that there are a lot of Jamaicans who have come in contact with an illegal gun and have never killed anyone or tried to do so. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine. You might just have to live in the wrong community to discover an illegal gun under your window. God forbid you get off your rockers and call the police to come and get him – don’t expect to carry on a peaceful life after that. To take it one step further, it is almost always a certain demographic of Jamaicans who find themselves facing the risk of an ‘mistaken identity’ in this country, while others get away with murder (au literally). The “wrong place at the wrong time” phenomenon is real.


And not to state the obvious, but to hang a suspected criminal, you will first have to catch him. The real problem here is that criminals commit crimes hoping to escape the system, not because they don’t mind spending 15 years in prison instead of 30. I don’t disagree with the call for sentences. more severe. But again, that’s not the real issue here. If criminals doubt that they will be arrested and convicted in the first place, then it doesn’t take a study of rocket science to understand why our crime statistics are what they are.

Therefore, to date, there is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on crime. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with measures that only add to the barbarity of our society, we can look at the history of capital punishment in other countries. Canada, for example, which abolished the death penalty in 1977, has since recorded a steadily declining crime rate. Australia has also seen a drop in the crime rate since its abolition of the death penalty in 1985. Many other countries have recorded negligible differences in their crime rates since the death penalty was abolished.

Besides the fact that people found with illegal firearms are not always murderers, we must recognize that murderers and other criminals do not commit crimes in the hope of obtaining light sentences. They commit crimes in the hope of never being convicted. Let’s focus on solving this.

Kristen Gyles is a graduate student at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. Email your comments to [email protected]


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