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Let’s have a conversation on hanging!

Permit me to add my voice to the extremely unsettling and destabilizing events which appear to be contaminating our generally peaceful landscape.

Practitioners of law often posit that a thorough assessment of the circumstances and the motives are needed if one is to draw an objective conclusion in relation to an act that has been committed.

Research has also demonstrated that when violent and heinous acts are carried out in the public domain, the up shots generally have a particularly deleterious effect on the psyche and sensibilities of the people that live in small peaceful societies like ours.

Now while the circumstances and motives are yet unknown, I am certain that a cold chill would have traversed the backbones of all law-abiding and peace-loving Barbadians who glimpse the security footage of the shooting near the Lucky Horseshoe Complex in Warrens.

I applaud the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) for their ongoing efforts to wrestle gun related crime to the ground but more importantly that they saw it fit on this occasion to release the video of the vicious attack as they seek to identify the alleged perpetrators.

As Barbadians, we can take great pride in our capacity to be tolerant to many things but circumstances and motives aside, what I saw in that video was cold blooded murder; the type that must be appropriately punished.

I have read that the death penalty is not considered to be an effective deterrent in reducing the incidences of serious crimes like murder in other jurisdictions; but as far as I am concerned, just like the circumstances and motives need to be weighed when an act is committed, I aver that the culture, societal accepted behaviour and social sensibilities must also be factored if a determination is to be made as to whether or not persons convicted of murder in Barbados should be granted an appointment with the gallows.

I am aware that Barbados is a signatory to several international human rights conventions and by extension retains membership with several organizations, some of which are anti-death penalty activists. Just recently they have been renewed calls by some for Barbados to remove the death penalty from the statute books.

It is therefore clear that given our need to retain a safe and peaceful society, while maintaining our commitments to international treaties that the topic of hanging will be difficult and contentious. But given the recent upsurge in gun related violence and serious criminal activity, I believe that the time has come for us to have a very serious conversation about the merits and demerits within the context of our localized uniqueness.

Some commentators, I am certain, will submit ideologies of rehabilitation while others may draw on Scripture for guidance and perspective. While I can certainly appreciate the validity of those opinions, my focus rests in this instance on the destabilizing effects that these gun related crimes are having on the Barbadian psyche.

It may be argued that the circumstances associated with other tragic events of late may suppose that while there was loss of life, the victims may not have been the intended targets of the attack; but in my opinion, the same cannot be said about the gruesome shooting in Warrens. As a society therefore, we must send a very clear signal to anyone who is willing to callously take the life of another.

With a unanimous voice, we must never allow this type of behaviour to take root in our country and hence the instituting of the appropriate deterrents is absolutely necessary, particularly at this time. I am convinced that unless we get drastic, these acts are likely to continue if not get worse.

Accordingly, I will conclude by citing the case of the Deltona Massacre where a jury found four perpetrators guilty in August 2006. Seventh Circuit Judge William A. Parson upheld the jury’s death penalty recommendation and called the killings “conscienceless” and “unnecessarily torturous”.

He told each of the convicted during back-to-back sentencing hearings . . . . “You have not only forfeited your right to live amongst us, you have forfeited your right to live at all”.

Sean St Clair Fields

One Response to Let’s have a conversation on hanging!

  1. Ben Hurley September 7, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t believe in the death penalty because innocent people in the past have been killed for a murder they did not commit , Since DNA about 20 people have been taken off of the death penalty list and it is a shame when a person is hanged and later they find the real killer, Also some one has to kill the convicted killer does that make that person less of a killer , I don’t believe that the convicted killer should be able to mix with other criminals of lesser crimes and they should not be given TV and treated like they are in the Hilton hotel and if they were locked up with hardly any contact with the outside world that to me would be a better punishment , They should never be let out if convicted of murder no matter how they have changed for the better but maybe they could let the younger generation know what it is like to be locked up like an animal in a cage for the rest of their lives through a TV show that could be shown in schools to teenagers.


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