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Capital Punishment In The Caribbean- Is This The Real Solution To Crime In The Region?

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I had a moment to sit and ponder the recent countrywide decision in Jamaica a few weeks back, where they agreed to keep capital punishment. Assuming that capital punishment went no where, why was/is Jamaica is still a major crime capital in the region and world? The Bahamas has been grappling with the same issue at an even more feverish pace, since the last three years crime, murder in particular, have spiked to un-Godly levels.

This leads to an argument about capital punishment; that it is, in fact, a deterrent to crime. Actually, from the looks of what type of punishment allowed to continue in Jamaica, capital punishment is clearly not. Jamaica ranks third in the highest amount of murders per capita in the world. Has been for years now, although the last hanging took place in the late 80's. The argument is that it was hardly used and hence the need to "bring hanging back". But, before and, most likely, after it is re-constituted, I have a feeling that crime would not abate. I don't want to sound like a pessimist, but crime goes hand in hand with alot of other factors that have absolutely nothing to do with fear of punishment.

I would say, quite boldly, why would I feel fear or have fear, from doing something as passionate as murder, when it's something I really wanted to do or had to do? So what about the punishment? I killed that guy and that makes me feel better.

Even now proponents of capital punishment, have stopped using it as an argument because the idea of the deterrence of crime and capital punishment, cannot be correlated on any statistical relation and in my estimation, logical basis. For one reason, how do you deter someone from committing a crime they committed? This back to the future type of mentality is simply science fiction.

The second plank for the deterrence argument, sets out to suggest that folks who may commit capital crimes, would be deterred by visible and swift hangings. Fact is, this is not the case at all. Statistics from every capital punishment jurisdiction to non capital punishment jurisdiction, do not find any correlation with lower capital offences than it is with higher capital offences. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest anything to do with "punishment" and "crime" at all. The basis for it is simply neither here nor there.

How did we begin to assume capital punishment has anything to do with deterring crime? Well, it is one of the great logical fallacies of the 20th century. Something where developed societies, grappled with it and, have ended their long standing position on any defence of its effectiveness. It's only the developing world that believes capital punishment in some way deters crime. Perhaps it is a reason why they are perpetually called developing?

This leads to a second stream of thought debouched on the merits of capital punishment. And, that is the self degradation of developing countries by the proponents, who say, outright, their society is not as established as the developed countries--so, this is why they have to employ capital punishment tactics, in an attempt to reign in bad elements of their society. This is one of thee most far out ideas I have ever heard used in this debate. This argument holds as much water- and is just as effective- as the old colonial racial tactic of "breeding out" the slave population by the white master, which was then seen as the only way to "clean" the black race. It's laughable to see capital punishment proponents, switch the argument, just to make it fit into whatever rationale they have about social living and crime. Unbelievable.

Fact of the matter is however, crime, yet again, is in developed countries and regions as it is in developing societies and some developing societies, have low crime rates in spite of the capital punishment mechanism or without.

There simply is no statistical correlation with developed and developing countries, to say, on any level, or, any time, that that can hold up as an argument. There is crime in New York city, where they have abolished the death penalty and crime has spiked and declined, just as easily, without the manipulation of the death penalty apparatus or argument espoused. The highest rise in murder rates in the US was in Kansas, between the period of 1996-2007. Are proponents trying to suggest that rural, peace loving Kansas State, is more backward than New York in regards to civilization? For example

The death penalty is not employed in the United Kingdom and certainly not in England. But, crime is relatively low per-capita than any other country. Why is that? Same can be said in France.

Even when proponents make the immigrant argument in developed countries in relation to developing countries and lack of civilization, you would have difficulty making the argument. East London has a higher immigrant population than most other parts of the UK and its crime statistics, are equally comparable to that of Birmingham or Scotland, where crime is equally as high with lower levels of immigrants. In fact, Scotland is the murder capital of the UK, with higher murder rates per-capita than in any other part of the UK.

The same mixed bag of conflicting theories can be found in the varying US states, as the differences between Kansas and New York, on that level, simply do not have comparable variables. Kansas has a lower immigrant population per volume and per-capita than that of New York. So, what exactly are we trying to say? Nothing.

Fact of the matter is- and sorry to have to burst the proponents of capital punishment's bubble again- that there simply is no relation between murder and capital punishment, to suggest it as a deterrent, on any level, for any reason--long term or short term.

So, we really have to discuss the merits of capital punishment, where folks, like this author, see from the end motive of the proponents, even before they arrived to it themselves. And, that is, it is used as a form of retribution and revenge on the murderous thug who killed that innocent victim.

I don't quite understand why folks form particular quarters just don't come out and say it. Say, quite boldly; "we want to kill (but don't have the guts to do it )the person who killed somebody else. It would make feel better, to know that some punk, got killed because he killed someone else."

While I share their pain, and pray for the victims of slain family members--like I have felt the pain and grieved over a family member of mine who was savaged by a gunman--I have a problem with acting in haste and with ill regard, when I speak of this issue. Not that I am trying to protect the young punk who killed. But, because, it moves us away from other root issues for crime and murder and, it does not make enough room, once we start this slippery slope, to deal with people who may have; killed by accident; killed in self defence, but unprovable; were provoked to kill; who killed in the heat of passion and so on and so forth.

Are we really trying to suggest that a man who walks into his house to find his wife in the sweet throe's of passionate love with another man, deserved no true justice and mercy because he killed someone society may have liked and/or loved dearly? A man, who may be an upstanding citizen, who just happens to have had a bad day at the worst time? Does he deserve death, because the person he killed, was someone equally as upstanding and even more so in the society than he was?

I find the lack of mercy and justice and the abuse of the tools of justice, by the same proponents who attempt to make the case that their societies are not as civilized as developed countries and hence, the reason to employ the death penalty, a stark concern. And, I dare to say even further that the abuse of the justice mechanism, with the seemingly pervasiveness of pseudo democracy and lack of transparency in many developing countries, is a concern to be equally voiced in a time where the debate has reached Caribbean wide proportions.

Yes. I said it. Capital punishment in the Caribbean, has reached region wide debate. So, we may as well have a frank an open conversation about it, rather than acting as if these issues, are any different to any of us at any time or on any level. Especially the Anglo-phone Caribbean, who live by, basically, the same code of social conduct handed down to us by our former imperial powers. The same justice system, the same economic system and the same values for life. It's their handed down to us as a one size fit all institution, rather than a society built for our own common understanding on society.

While I have no decisive say in whether or not Jamaica or any other Caribbean country, goes the way of the noose. However, I can't help but sharpen the debate and get to the root theory and motivation behind using such a fatal device, in an attempt, I hope, to get the public to address the real issues with spiking murder rates and crime in general. And, it's not about the bible and it is not about the lack of moral values. It's something allot more stark, but the establishment does not readily face up to it, because it would display failure, perhaps on purpose, to provide basic functions made for a civil society--something where they espouse to be the vanguard of.

It's the economy stupid. No more and no less. Their is and will always be, spikes in the level of criminal activity, with the lack of resources and access to the resources, built for a comfortable human life. In some countries in Africa, corruption, on every level, is accepted because people have no other recourse to deal with their need to survive. Even the phenomenon of urbanization, has its root underpinnings in economic principles--if we are to appreciate the economy, from a greater extent than dollars and cents.

Crime and its linkages to the economy, is so patently obvious, until it pains me to have to write the bold and obvious in this article.

It would be refreshing for folks to face up to the fact that allot of issues, especially in regards to providing a safe, regulated and transparent economy, is out of their hands, or, above their heads and spheres of interest. It would be better to say it and then attempt to boldly bring people, your people, into a discussion on how to move forward with providing equity for all in the market. And you have to do something about it or it will get worse. Yes we can have punishment, but the murder of an innocent is a murder of an innocent. No amount of punishment can bring them back. If the people who are predisposed to crime in general can't eat, or, live to their fullest potential in an orderly society, "their" society, they will be forced to live to their potential outside of that orderly society. Point blank! Their is no fuzzy debate or wedge issue to bring up in regards to it. If you don't include, you exclude. Just so happens that the exclusion, is fatal--in many regards.

What can Caribbean countries do to sure up their economies? I don't have a ready made, cookie cutter response to that. If I did, I would have been making a mint as an economic and social adviser to many a leader in the world. It takes allot of work and thoughtfulness, however. Also however, the answer, is not found in a text book from Harvard and it is not found, in the mandate of the IMF and World Bank--the biggest think tanks in the world. It is found, rather, in the heart of a leader and with his love for his country, to put frameworks around the levels of economic activity within his or her country, to harness that, so people can feel included in their economic process.

Caribbean leadership has to continually be on the hustle for results in the market for all people. An all inclusive society and economy. It has to be their key issue of stewardship. People are literally dying out here and we have to begin taking it death serious. Caribbean countries need leadership, to say, without fear of backlash from the elite establishment and without fear of losing their authority to an increasing economically empowered electorate--and with the intelligence to do it-- "we need to get our economy more productive through total and wholesale domestic liberalization". Forget global liberalization. In fact, that would make issues worse. Open up the market for all and sundry in the domestic sense, first. That does not mean protectionism. But, it simply means liberalization. Not privatization through foreignization. But, true, domestic liberalization. It has to come before globalization in any event. At least it should!

Attractive little catch phrases come to mind when I say domestic liberalization. For example; "we have to create job's at home" or, "you have to buy domestic".

But, while it makes the issue rather simple, in actuality, it is what it is.

Support home base and all within. Or, they don't support you.



Edited by GlobalViewToday

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In response to a letter posted in regards to the first part of the "Capital Punishment in the Caribbean" series (the article posted on Caribbean Net News on the 8th of Dec 2008 and the letter on the 9th, 2008), I took the liberty of hastening the second part of the material to deal with a third part of the Capital Punishment proponents' debate, which was left unaddressed.

While I admit the first article was extremely lengthy. This follow up, would promise to be as intellectually fulfilling as well as respond to the letter and present the second half of my stance against Capital Punishment, to a tee--and respond to the focal point of the author of the letter--while not being as fustian as the former

I would just like to start off on his letter, first, with what the author stated as his main point; "No one is suggesting that the death penalty is the solution to crime in the Caribbean"....in fact, yes, yes folks were and are trying to make the deterrent argument. And, hence, my rebuttal on that line of argument on the debate, especially in regards to the Caribbean and saying quite loudly, again, that it is not an argument--along with all of the relevant points mentioned. End of story!

The letter stated, quite candidly, Capital Punishment--while persons agree that is no determinant as it being a deterrent to crime-- is not about deterrence, but, about "justice". Sounds allot like president G.W. Bush after 9-11, doesn't it? To this date, the persons wanted and sought for for "justice" have not been caught. While that part of the argument is tangential, of course, I would advance to say, as well, that "justice" in that sense and in the sense of murder and Capital Punishment, is subjective.

This leads me to the crux of my position in this second part essay: since capital punishment, is rooted in the idea of justice to the criminal and for the victim who lost their life, then who's to say that everyone feels that capital punishment, should be a tool for everyone and for every victim's family who where killed?

Are the mouth pieces for capital punishment, speaking on behalf of all persons who were murdered and their families? I happen to think not. Also, are they speaking, especially in the Caribbean, from their King James version of the New Testament? "Christians" following the true teachings of "Jesus Christ"?? I don't think so either. I thought Christ taught us to love and forgive? Perhaps its not the same bible we share and not the same brand of "Christianity" we ascribe to.

Since, folks like me, and, the proponents for the death penalty, like Dudley Sharp- the author of the letter response to my first article- have differing views on what's "just" in the penal codes world wide, perhaps, the proponents would do something that would be palatable to me, as an anti-death penalty proponent and a tax paying citizen who would have to pay for the execution and that is, simply, pay for their killer's execution--if they want added value to the punishment, as capital punishment is. The pro-death folks should; assist with the legal proceedings; administer the lethal injection; throw the switch on ol'e sparky and/or; pull the lever on the gallows. Sounds fair to me. Don't let the tax payers who are not in favour if the death penalty, pay for your justice the way "you think" it should be applied. The pro-death penalty proponents, should start a little kitty in the corner of their homes for death day prep-- sort of like a "swear jar". That sounds reasonable. We, as tax payers, pay for enough "stuff" we have no value for, we should not pay for individual brands of justice for folks who don't have the guts or the ability to kill a murder for themselves and rather, choose to let the tax payers and the system, do it for them.

Here is where we are now with this debate, as Mr. Sharp has just admitted to- 1. the debate is not about what deters crime and 2. it is not about what's "just" as it is subjective-- more so, who knows what exactly the "true" victim would be feeling? After all, they are dead and at the point of the great beyond-- or where ever you believe people go after they pass away! (Condolences to all the victims who have been slaughtered and their families, and in no way am I being flippant about murder)

Just pay for it i say. Every red cent and every hair follicle on that rope and for every volt charged, pay for it. Participate in it, if you wish and if that makes you feel complete. However, don't tell me, ever, that in the Caribbean region in particular, where we seem to create more criminals than we do college graduates, all in a system handed down to use to our disadvantage, that capital punishment--especially in regards to the persons pre-disposed to commit murder and crime; young adult males-- don't deserve justice for being a product of their environment and working within a system which was not created for them primarily.

That is the underlying theme of my argument--we in the Caribbean, have an economic and social system, that works against young adult males. Black America has that issue as well and White America, has just now come to grips with the issues regarding their social and economic frameworks for exclusion which binds many a folk.

Yes. We have a president Obama. Yes. We do have a host of other prominent black men. They are, for the most part, exceptions--and extraordinary exceptions at that--to the rule. They too understand that all don't make it. They too understand, or, at least we hope so, that some will never have the opportunity to see the light of day on their face, let alone have an opportunity to reject it's radiance. This is why president elect Obama and people like him, resonate with the people--he too knows, he too felt and he too knows what to do about some of the systems of injustices, which most are non racial, but, seem to effect race and gender more than anything else.

Regardless of the excuses and exceptions to the rule some of us may have, in the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson--and I am in no way a supporter of him-- "we have more work to do"...(this was after he had dealt with the situation of the Jena six)

Let's not, especially in the Caribbean, neglect the issues to how do we go about preventing crime and reducing the levels of criminals, fit for actual punishment and quite sadly after the fact--when all sides know, full well and very clearly, it is not a deterrent and never will be a deterrent. We don't save lives that way at all. And, don't waste people's time and money. Point blank!

To say again, we have a problem region wide and black males, in particular, have an issue with ingratiating themselves into the normal society in the western world. Why would I want for anyone, to take their eye off of not working towards rectifying the wrongs they have inflicted upon these urban young males and not have ear to what is the real solution?

And, no, don't cry me a river. And, no, I won't cry a river for myself. I'm a lucky one- at least so far. However, there are those out there, who need someone to articulate and speak for them, who understand the issues, rather than someone who will not. And, at the same time, neglect duties to make for a better life as opposed to making clear way for the destruction and discarding of human life in totality. Such a pitiful waste!

No Sir, readers. Mr. Sharp is wrong on this one. Dead wrong, indeed!



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GlobalViewToday, let me start by saying, welcome to the forum.

I’m a firm believer and have made the comment before that Capital Punishment is not the only vehicle that could be used hoping to deter crime. It does not give government the authority to reciprocate this kind of punishment to an alleged offender.

You may be interested in reading the following previous topics in the forum titled:

“Capital Punishment” Click Here

"Crime in the Caribbean" Click Here

“Crime Rise in the Carribean” Click Here]

As CaptainAl aka The Captain stated in one of the earlier posts that “the execution topic keeps coming back to haunt us every time there is someone to put to death.”

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As CaptainAl aka The Captain stated in one of the earlier posts that "the execution topic keeps coming back to haunt us every time there is someone to put to death."

And so it should, I find the idea of Capital Punishment abhorrent in the extreme. It has no place in a Civilised Society, that may be judged by its treatment of its wrong doers. I believe that to take anothers life unless your own or others is in danger is murder, even if performed by the state. In the same way that treating one man as less than another is a crime against humanity.

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St Kitts-Nevis , with a relatively small population is faced with an inordinately high rate of murders. Yesterday a convicted murdered was hang there. Murder is also Capital Punishment. And we are seeing the perpertrators of the most heinous killings, walking free after a couple of years behind bars. I remember one young lad(the Capt should as well) who killed a man, without any sort of provocation. Jailed for a few years ,released and struck again , killing another man walking home after a Saturday night drink in the village shop. He was after a third man, a witness to the act. But that witness legged it sharpish to the USA.

Do you mean to tell me that this man deserves to live,( which he is) while another two were not given that option?

Edited by vonDerry

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St Kitts-Nevis , with a relatively small population is faced with an inordinately high rate of murders. Yesterday a convicted murdered was hang there. Murder is also Capital Punishment. And we are seeing the perpertrators of the most heinous killings, walking free after a couple of years behind bars. I remember one young lad(the Capt should as well) who killed a man, without any sort of provocation. Jailed for a few years ,released and struck again , killing another man walking home after a Saturday night drink in the village shop. He was after a third man, a witness to the act. But that witness legged it sharpish to the USA.

Do you mean to tell me that this man deserves to live,( which he is) while another two were not given that option?

No I am not, most certainly not. He as a risk should never have been released. However, killing for killing is not my idea of a solution.

I would wager I know more murderers than most on here. Most are reformed, a rash act in youth, an act of brutality during another crime, the one punch killer. I know a few that will never be reformed, and that will hopefully never see the light of day. I just cannot condone a system which says that killing is the most heinous of crimes and then perpetrates the same crime.

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I remember one young lad (the Capt should as well) who killed a man, without any sort of provocation. Jailed for a few years, released and struck again , killing another man walking home after a Saturday night drink in the village shop. He was after a third man, a witness to the act. But that witness legged it sharpish to the USA.

Released after only a few years? Any idea why? Don't tell me because the prisons were too full?

I'm all too familiar with this type of scenario in the USA, where a killer, rapist or child molester walks free (well short of the term he was supposed to serve), only to repeat the same heinous crime. Very sad.

Edited by dlt2000

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