Thursday, January 18, 2007

Capital Punishment – Crime against crime


Is Capital Punishment fair or not? This has been one of the highly debated topics right from its early days and it always comes to the limelight when one is subjected to it. Wikipedia defines Capital Punishment (also known as Death Penalty) as the execution of a convicted criminal by the state as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. In India too, capital punishment is being practiced, the latest being the hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee on August 14th, 2004 for raping and killing a 14 year old girl in 1990.

But is it justifiable to take the other person's life? Are we bestowed with the right to kill someone, no matter how evil his deeds maybe? Can we play God? European countries, Australia and Canada have abolished this act long back, while Russia and countries in northern Africa haven’t practiced it in the last 10 years.

One of the reasons given by the retentionist countries is that capital punishment serves as an example or warning to others for inhuman acts committed by the convicted criminal. But does it really decrease the crime rates. In contrast, the crime rates have increased. Take the example of Dhananjoy. He being hanged after serving 11 years in jail is but a shame to the entire judiciary system. If Saddam’s recent hangings are any indication, it has actually created a rift between the Shia’s and Sunni’s in Iraq. Also, the person being hanged gets hailed as an anti-hero. Instead, life imprisonment would have kept him under wraps and away from the media glare.

One of the main fears of capital punishment is the scare of an innocent getting convicted. A mistake here would mean the life of the wrongly accused. Add to it, the public outcry that would erupt when such a news goes to the press.

Secondly, right to life is one of the basic human rights enjoyed by everyone, and the state cannot strip anyone, of that right. This is more a question of the philosophy and ethics than anything else.

Perpetrators of CP would argue that, a psychopath is best dead, than otherwise. They would however agree with the fact that the death penalty should be reserved for exceptional cases; only when keeping a criminal in custody would do more harm than good. Also, acts of recidivism (committing similar crimes over and over again as in the case of serial killers), terror or barbaric acts of violence deserve this kind of punishment.

Though judiciary believes prison as a place for rehabilitation and reform, the truth couldn’t be farther. One of the reasons for supporting death penalty is that, in the unlikely event when a convict escapes from the prison he is once again free to commit more crime. Instead of nipping the problem in its bud, the state is in effect giving the convict a chance to commit the same again.

I rest my case here saying that, there is no one conclusion is such a situation where you have equal factions supporting either.


1 comment:

Murat said...

Interesting, thought-provoking post.However, your conclusion is a little lame (if you dont mind me saying so). What is your opinion/conclusion on this topic?
My opinion is quite clear- I dont think capital punishment has any place in a modern democratic society. My reasons- well let me refute the reasons for the other side of the argument.
"Perpetrators of CP would argue that, a psychopath is best dead, than otherwise. They would however agree with the fact that the death penalty should be reserved for exceptional cases; only when keeping a criminal in custody would do more harm than good. Also, acts of recidivism (committing similar crimes over and over again as in the case of serial killers), terror or barbaric acts of violence deserve this kind of punishment. "
-By killing a serial killer, terrorist etc. society makes no net benefit. Society gains only if the criminal in question is reformed and helped in becoming a law-abiding, contributing member in society.
"Though judiciary believes prison as a place for rehabilitation and reform, the truth couldn’t be farther. One of the reasons for supporting death penalty is that, in the unlikely event when a convict escapes from the prison he is once again free to commit more crime. Instead of nipping the problem in its bud, the state is in effect giving the convict a chance to commit the same again."
- ahhh- prison is meant to prevent criminals from running free. Also humans never make decisions based on anticipated worst case scenarios - for example we dont sit indoors all-day (especially on windy days), because we are afraid that by going outdoors we are susceptible to fall victim to the unlikely event of a tree falling down- so why should we make decisions on punitive actions based on extreme worst case scenarios.