Tue | Oct 4, 2022

Enforcing death penalty needs deeper analysis

Published:Monday | July 4, 2022 | 12:35 AM


The director of public prosecution (DPP) has declared its intent to ask for the death penalty in the case of the young man who is charged with the gruesome and insane murders of a mother and her four children in Clarendon. I find the DPP's hurried declaration somewhat disconcerting, given the pending psychiatric evaluation ordered by the court. It is my lay opinion that depending on the results of said evaluation the prospect of requesting the death penalty might or might not become null and void. Public interest groups and individuals are naturally divided on the imposition of the death penalty.

Our political directorate should be concerned about geo-political considerations vis-à-vis the death penalty. The United State Supreme Court has ruled the death penalty “cruel and unusual punishment” (1972). The United Kingdom abolished the death penalty by way of their, “Human Rights Act”, which took effect in 1998. Canada's last hangings took place in 1962, and in 1976, they abolished the death penalty for murder, treason, and piracy. It would be unwise to think that our judiciary cannot or will not bow to possible pressure from our biggest donor countries and trade partners.

A very popular and forceful question faced by anti-death penalty proponents is, “What about the victims?” In response to the question, Equal Justice USA posits, “To be meaningful, justice should be swift and sure, the death penalty is neither. It prolongs pain for victims' families, dragging them through an agonising and lengthy process that promises an execution at the beginning, but often results in a different sentence in the end. Meanwhile, it dedicates scarce resources to a small handful of cases while the real needs of the vast majority of victims' families are ignored.”

Whichever side of the death penalty debate you find yourself, closure for the families of victims will remain elusive.



Sandy Bay, Clarendon