PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
PieterPan
 
Comments: 108
Article views: 1281
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all PieterPan's badges.
 

No answer in the death penalty

01 February 2013, 22:20

Each time I read a post beneath an article about a tragic and grizzly crime calling for the return of the death penalty, I have to wonder why the commentator thinks the death penalty will either have prevented the tragedy or make it better.

I don’t deny seeing the attractiveness of the comeuppance that dishing out the death penalty, but other than providing a sense of relief to the general public as a catharsis for their rage I fail to see any other benefit. To the family whose child was killed it certainly isn’t going to bring any comfort.

Still it appears that many people really do believe the death penalty will somehow cut down on the number of violent crimes in our society. I agree that obviously a potential repeat offender would not have the opportunity to commit any more crimes if he were dead but this argument is problematic for a couple of reasons:

1.      - Someone given a death sentence, in the absence of the death sentence, would otherwise be given life in prison thus effectively nullifying their ability to repeat an offence or enact a new crime

2.      -  Many people who commit violent crimes are never sentenced to life in prison but are instead given shorter sentences ranging from a few years to a few decades. A judge who is unwilling to hand down a sentence of life in prison is most certainly not going to proffer the death penalty. Thus the death penalty becomes a special punishment reserved for a very small number of offenders and is therefore not a real concern to any criminal.

3.     - If we put people to death because they might commit a similar offence in future, we are essentially punishing them for crimes they didn’t perpetrate. Why not give the death penalty to petty thieves then because they may become violent criminals in future.

Okay I realize that last point is a slippery slope argument that is a bit ridiculous, but dealing death because of things that haven’t yet come to pass is ridiculous. You may as well put people to death for thinking about killing someone. Our prisons would be a lot fuller than they are now.

Also, there is no evidence that the death penalty has any effect on crime. Countries like Norway, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and the UK have abolished the death penalty yet have some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world. On the other hand a country like the USA which still has the death penalty in some states has a very high rate of violent crime.

It is also reasonable to assume that there is no correlation between the amount of crime being committed and the punishment for said crimes. No shoplifter wants to go to jail, but the knowledge that getting caught could lead to incarceration doesn’t stop them leaving the store with knickers stuffed to bursting with all sorts of knick knacks.   Likewise a murderer is not very likely to be deterred by the idea that if he gets caught he might get the death penalty.

Murder is usually enacted out of a sense of desperation or a compulsion such as that experienced by serial killers. If you’re compelled to kill, the fear that you might get caught and then put to death will have been suppressed or marginalised by your desire by the time you act on your compulsion. If you kill out a sense of desperation, a moment of insanity, self-preservation or just plain hatred your sense of reason may have been compromised by your other emotions. Either way, by the time an act of violence occurs, the person perpetrating the act is no longer in any position to be worried about the consequences.

The main reason I oppose the death penalty though is that the law is not infallible and very often, far too often, the wrong person is incarcerated. In the US it is estimated that as many as 5000 to 10000 people are wrongly convicted each year. The UK now has 30 innocence projects to help those wrongly convicted. If the US and the UK can’t get it right, what hope does South Africa with its increasingly corrupt police force have?

With dockets that seem to vanish into the netherworld in the back of filing cabinets, police who randomly stop and bribe innocent drivers, citizens being harassed at will, strained courts, overflowing prisons and a population applying increasing pressure I struggle to see a legal system that isn’t going to make mistakes. Certainly the police are under pressure to produce arrests. We have seen with a few cases in over the last few years that easiest target usually becomes suspect number one.

It’s easy to ignore the fact that innocent people could be targeted as suspects by the police especially when we put ourselves at ease by believing that the police wouldn’t arrest someone for murder if they weren’t guilty of something. But who will be suspect number one if you come home one night to find your wife or girlfriend dead? Ask Fred.

Yes I know that most murders are committed by someone known to the victim, but that doesn’t change the fact that a police force under pressure is less concerned with the truth and more interested in scoring a conviction.

The death penalty is not the answer to solving South Africa’s crime problem. Crime is a symptom and the death penalty would do nothing to make it go away. 

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
108 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor
SARS and local municipalities it ...

SARS and local municipalities it is now time to tax Churches. Read more...

258 comments 6889 views
Submitted by
Response: Traditional initiation ...

As a proud citizen of the Western Cape, born and raised on the outskirts of Cape Town, I do not see the need to undergo initiation to become a man. Read more...

0 comments 812 views
Submitted by
Shaun Engel
Comedy on long

Ever wanted to be a comedian? Be on stage and make people laugh…well these guys do it for a living – If laughter is the best medicine after tonight I’m sorted for winter…flu for whaaaaat o_O Read more...

3 comments 147 views
Submitted by
Jaco Prinsloo
Everything converges in September...

There seems to be anticipation around the world that something big is going to happen in September this year. Read more...

63 comments 828 views
Submitted by
Jacques de Villiers
Initiation school on Table Mounta...

That sounds like a really wonderful idea. Even though the Xhosas were never traditionally in the Western Cape, the reality is that many of them are now and will forever be an integral part of it. Read more...

5 comments 1009 views
Submitted by
Digital Soigneurs
5 Things to Consider about your L...

Dont assume that your current Linkedin Profile Picture is great...that ID looking pic is average at most...nothing to be proud about.. Read more...

0 comments 884 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.