Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

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"Just call the spade a spade"

Published in Newsday • 18 June 2005 • 280 words

The word “penalty” is defined as “A punishment established by law or authority for a crime or offence.” Punishment is the reward for crime and proceeds on the principle that there is an eternal distinction between right and wrong, and that this distinction must be maintained for its own sake. It is not primarily intended for the reformation of criminals, nor for the purpose of deterring others from crime. Even the most extreme threat of eternal damnation in hell which Christianity preaches does not deter its believers from committing mortal sins.

Similarly, nobody can prove that either the death penalty or life imprisonment or any other punishment serves as a deterrent to crime. These results may be gained, but crime in itself demands punishment. In order to punish anyone however, the person has to be alive. You cannot punish someone who is dead. Therefore killing someone as a punishment is an oxymoron. Hence a life sentence is a more appropriate punishment for the heinous crime of murder. The attempt to resume hangings is an admission that you do not feel that criminals are being punished enough by incarceration in our jails.

If they were being punished then why do you want to stop this punishment by taking their lives? How long does the hanging process take before the person dies? One minute? Five minutes? And then the punishment ends. Of course if political expediency is the motive behind this new move, then call a spade a spade and stop fooling the population with catchy words like “punishment,” “deterrent” and “shaking in their shoes.”

Peter Bklankey, St Anns

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