Friday November 2, 2012
Hang on to the sentence
WHY NOT BY D.RAJ
The death sentence may soon be no more. Is that a good thing – or will it only embolden the criminals and drug traffickers to continue with their misdeeds?
SO, it seems the death penalty may be abolished soon.
Apparently, we can’t appeal for the lives of Malaysian drug mules held elsewhere if we are stringing them up right here.
Some years ago, I would have said that was a capital idea indeed.
The NGOs were all saying that no one had the right to kill anyone, even if he were a criminal.
And I agreed.
All those hangings were not reducing the number of drug addicts, traffickers or murderers.
These people were doing it despite the capital punishment.
Also, it’s a judgment you can’t go back on.
Once a person has been hanged, you cannot say: “I’m sorry, I realise you’re innocent and you can have your life back.”
But you know, time changes a person’s perspective.
Do I feel the same way now? I think not.
I believe there are instances when capital punishment is needed.
You see, I am much older now and I know there are bad people out there. Really bad people.
People for whom the word rehabilitation means nothing.
People who will kill or maim at the slightest provocation – or just for kicks. And many of them are fuelled by drugs.
All you have to do is ask the family of the security guard who was gunned down in cold blood.
Or the kin of the chap who was mercilessly hacked to death by a group of drug-crazed youths.
Or the family of the policeman who was shot in the chest while chasing down two thieves on Tuesday.
I have met families of people who have died at the hands of violent criminals, many under the influence of drugs.
For many of the families, the only closure is knowing that the killer has been punished in the harshest possible manner.
I also talked to some serving and former prison officers I know.
After all, who better than a former hangman to know about things like these? And all unanimously agreed that capital punishment must stay.
Not only that – they want the hangings to be publicised.
One said: “The problem today is that very little is known about the death penalty. In those days, there were reports in the newspapers when someone was hanged.
“That would make the would-be culprits think twice about trafficking. They would know fear.
“Now, there are many out there who have romantic ideas about the gallows. They believe they will walk with their heads held high to the gallows and be hero-worshipped.”
Nothing could be further from the truth, he said, and told of how death row prisoners would cringe when the main door is unlocked – about how they would live in fear when the council of Rulers meet.
The council of Rulers is the final avenue of appeal for clemency. If they reject your appeal, you hang.
And the officers told of how the condemned prisoners would cry, ask to see their families and beg for forgiveness.
Knowing that you are going to your death can be a terrible deterrent.
It’s all very painful and sad, but they should have thought about it before committing the crime, said the ex-officer.
“Make it public and they will know,” he said.
“Write about life in death row, about the suffering of the criminals’ families.
“And don’t forget the suffering of the victims’ families.
“Then, these people will think twice about causing misery to other people.
“Treating them with kid gloves only encourages crime,” he said.
Another pointed to the days when the newspapers prominently ran stories of the hangings.
“Check the stats,” he declared.
“You will find the number of drug offences dropped at that time.”
The problem, however, is the inconsistency in the sentencing.
There have been numerous instances when people have cried foul over a small-time shoplifter stealing a tin of milk for her hungry child getting a harsher sentence than the embezzler who took millions.
Recently, there were the rapists who got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, all because they had a “bright future”.
The minister is now thinking of amending that law to ensure custodial sentence.
Then came the jaw dropper. Two brothers were sentenced to death for beating to death a burglar who fell from the ceiling.
Let’s get this right. A guy climbs onto your roof and crashes through your ceiling and you are not supposed to whack him?
And if he dies in the process, it becomes first-degree murder, punishable by death?
I’ve got questions. Who framed those charges?
And why did the judge not amend the charges?
What if the opposite had happened?
What if the man had killed the two brothers and escaped? No one would know who he was and he would be a free man today.
Now, there’s a death sentence I absolutely object to.
> The writer believes that the death sentence must be the last recourse of the courts – used only when all else is no longer valid. And how about a lethal cocktail of drugs? Would that be poetic justice for drug dealers.