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

7 Responses to Let’s have a conversation on hanging!

  1. Please elaborate. September 7, 2016 at 8:14 am

    You rightly note that the death penalty has been shown to be an ineffective deterrent in other jurisdictions. What is it about Barbados’s/Bajan’s ‘culture, societal accepted behaviour and social sensibilities’ which makes it/us so uniquely suitable for the death penalty?

  2. low battery September 7, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    I don’t see anyone calling for the head of those selling our birthrights; I don’t see anyone calling for the head of Mr. Parris and those at the head of CLICO who will be causing the premature death of many, and others living in their old age without; I don’t see any calls for the head of the fellow who “accidentally” shot his son. I don’t see calls for the heads of those in both parties who are responsible by their lack of vision, greed and selfishness, have DIRECTLY caused the current economic situation and income inequity, which is the breeding ground for violence. I don’t see any calls to find out who imported the weapons and who finances the drug businesses; I see no calls for transparency from the White Collar criminals…..
    So. Until you address me with the above, miss me with all the talk to hang somebody from the Orleans of Gazettes.

  3. 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.

  4. Ned Logan September 7, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    A gallows is no of a solution than spanking is. If you spank a child, you are using violence to solve your problems instead of words.

    If you use a death penalty, you show criminals that their problems can be solved by killing too.

    If you believe in gun control, that solves nothing either. All that does is make the legal gun owning Bajans give up their guns, when the criminals will not. It will also give the criminals confidence to enter any home that they want without fear.

    The only solution is crime prevention and crime reduction. Consider legalizing Marijuana. Create a tourist industry around it. While taking away a reason for criminals to shoot each other over. Look to Colorado and Washington state, & the positive effects that it has had there.

    Canada will also legalize Marijuana next year. Does Barbados want to model itself after Amsterdam, Canada, and the USA? Or do they want to follow the lead of the Phillippeans committing executions of drug dealers without due process?

    Get out of the UN arms trade treaty. Barbados legally imports arms. IT does not export arms. Use the millions it cost to maintain treaty provisions to educate and train young men and women with relevant professions or skills.

  5. Renee September 8, 2016 at 8:34 am

    What the powers that be fail to realize that the perpetrators of the types of crime we see depicted above don’t care about going to prison. They see it as a badge of honour and a stripe they wear with pride. It gives them cred when they come out.

    They know they not going to hang so they don’t care.

  6. Anonymous September 8, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Truthfully it depends on what you see as worse or better. Innocent people have died due to the death penalty and those who kill might actually rather the death penalty because it is to them an escape from punishment, but all in all when one goes and looks at morals is it right to let a man go unpunished for murder ? No . Is it right to kill a man for killing another? Or is a less eye for an eye punishment suitable for just in case the person seeks forgiveness, did not even commit the murder or like everyone else, deserves the chance to repent. I am strongly Christian and the God that I believe in allows people to repent and knows that all have fallen short of the glory of God and that no one is without sin and for those who are innocent of this crime but are in jail anyways what about them ?

  7. Hal Austin September 10, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Hanging is barbaric and savage and appeals to people of a demented mind.
    A prominent Barbadian once told me a story of being put under enormous pressure by one of his workers to put his name forward to be the hangman at Glendairy.
    He hesitated. Later the man’s son was accused of a killing and his begging for the job of hangman turned to one of borrowing money to represent his son.
    There are too many miscarriages of justice to use to about absolute about the conviction of an accused.
    I suggest anyone with doubts should read: Peculiar Institution – America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition, by David Garland.


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