As you have gathered thus far I am not at all pro the death sentence, I will repeat my reasons so that you can think about where I am coming from.
First the last man to be executed in South Africa was posthumously proven innocent. For this bloke who was murdered by the justice system there will never be justice, nor can we say oops, take back. He is dead and will never know that he was adjudicated innocent.
Second, Justice systems throughout the world have been proven to be faulty, The USA regularly convicts the innocent, with evidence from bad police work, Why would it be different in South Africa?
I have had dealings with our courts and have seen that justice and truth are not great bed fellows.
People get convicted for 1st degree murder because they were defending themselves, but there were no witnesses. Imagine you were in that situation, Evidence may be found later, it has happened.
What if your brother, sister or best friend in a fit of rage, drunkeness or stupidity kills someone? Would you be so keen to have them executed?
Most of all, would you trust our government and justice system not to abuse the power of life and death?
As I am about solutions not just whining and moaning, I have a few suggestions regarding the justice system.
I was told yesterday that justice must be seen, it must be swift and the consequences dire. I agree with these statements yet I know that vigilantiism and mob justice are not the solution. Kangaroo Courts will not fix the problem, They will only exacerbate it.
I propose a total overhaul of the justice system. We need to start with the basics and define crime bands and institute minimum sentencing. Different types of crime need different approaches. You cannot treat a first time offender guilty of stealing a chocolate bar at the local shop the same as a first time offender that takes a gun and robs the shop.
I am all for rehabilitation and believe that the first example could be rehabilitated but the second not. If a penchant for violence is detected the punishment should be harsh. This article would go on for chapters should we set about starting to define specific crimes.
I want to suggest that we start by defining crimes into a few groups. Let's call the schedule 1 - 5.
Schedule 1: First Offender: Petty crimes non violent Example a first time offender that has been found guilty of stealing a loaf of bread or any non violent crime. A petty crime would have a maximum value attached that would preclude sentences greater than 12 months.
A first offender in this category should be given a chance to rehabilitate himself. A sentence of community service where he will work for his victim, a public entity such as a hospital, sweeping streets in any position determined by a community service centre.
The value of his community service should be determined as folows. A nominal labour rate equivalent to the minimum wage would apply, The punishment would be community service to the value of X 10. For example assuming the minimum wage is 8.50 per hour, the value of the goods stolen is R 150.00, the community service would be 1500 / R 8.50, making the sentence 177 hours of which at least 25% should be spent in the employ of the victim allowing restitution and punishment.
These offenders could also be used by hospitals and businesses at a nominal cost of Minimum wage payed to the Community Service Organisation to fund accommodation and feeding of these offenders. The offenders family could be paid a stipend less than minimum wage to support them living at home.
Any failure to appear at their place of employment automatically upgrades the to Schedule 2. Any secondary crime related or not upgrades them to Schedule 2. No questions, no excuses.
Schedule 2: Repeat Offenders: Petty Crimes First Offenders: Crimes with no Violence exceeding the limits for petty crime. eg White collar crime.
Using the same formula as above for the first time offenders, except the sentences will be served in a "Work House" Prison. Repeat Offenders will be sentenced to a minimum sentence to the value of 100X of the goods stolen, Thus the R 150.00 will be calculated to 1765 hours, / 40 (average work week) They would then be sentenced to 45 weeks in a "Work house prison" A "Work House" Prison would have attached a manufacturing plant where these prisoners would be tasked with work, Goods would be sold by these work houses to fund the accomodation and feeding of the prisoners.
Schedule 3: First time offenders: Crimes with weapons.Example: A mugger that uses a weapon to subdue his victims.
Third strike offenders: Petty Crime
First time offenders: Corruption and BriberyExample an offender offering or receiving a bribe.
Minimum Sentences of 15 years with no parole. Served in a High Security Prison with hard labour.
Schedule 4: Repeat Offenders: Crimes with weapons.
Minimum Sentence of 25 years with no parole, Hard Labour.
Schedule 5: Capital Offences: Crimes against other Humans: eg rape, murder, paedophillia etc.
Minimum Sentence Life no parole, They will die in their cages after a life of hard labour.
Prisons are to be places of incarceration, not universities, not TV Lounges, Every prisoner will do a days work to pay for his keep. Prison needs to be seen as a deterrent not a free meal for a few months.
What do you think of my suggestions?
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