Sun | Dec 5, 2021

The death penalty and our justice system

Published:Wednesday | April 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I am one of the bleeding-heart liberals who are against instituting the death penalty for proponents of heinous crimes in the society, and I have two reasons for this.

First, our decrepit, overburdened, and flawed system could hand down convictions resulting in the execution of innocent people. I believe that it is morally reprehensible to imprison, let alone execute an innocent person.

Second, there is no convincing empirical evidence to demonstrate that execution as punishment may serve as a significantly greater deterrence to murderers than other penalties.

The right to life has been expressed as the primacy and intrinsic dignity of the human being. All other rights depend on the foundation of life.

In our societal context, the murders being committed interfere with our right to live and do business without fear. Therefore, the justice system should mete out punishment that is commensurate with murderous acts. If murder - oftentimes heinous - is committed, that wilfully deprives an innocent person of his right to life, would it not be proportionate for the system to deprive the guilty of his right to life as well?

Common sense dictates that the death penalty could be effective in deterring marauding gunmen from executing decent, law-abiding citizens, primarily for wants and other senseless reasons, if we looked at our system and addressed the glaring inefficiencies and other issues associated with the untimely dispensation of justice.

Is it so difficult to rationalise that once the competent investigations are done, and due process of law is followed, and if justice is swift and certain, that the death penalty could reduce the murder toll?

I am not arguing that the death penalty should be reinstated for all cases of murder. I am arguing that it may be necessary for the most heinous of the cases. Aren't the most heinous cases of premeditated murder, which are perpetrated by dog-hearted criminals, deserving of death?

It is time for us to weigh the impact of the rising murder toll for the family and friends of the victims, and the society at large, and consider this option in buttressing what obtains in our justice system.