Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pass the Current

Murder the Murderer?

In this imperfect world, condemned are those who cannot defend themselves. The soul is one such entity.

- The Soul Doctor

What could be more cruel than extracting a life consciously? If nothing else could be more cruel, then extracting another life consciously with state support for whatever justification is barbaric. Capital Punishment embodies the human vice for revenge and vengeance. Death penalty signifies prejudice of emotion over reason.

Among other things, deterrence is cited as a major reason for having capital punishment. Honestly speaking, I wonder if there is there any deterrence value by having capital punishments. If statistics are anything to go by, then crime rates are increasing day by day and alternatively, crime rates have dropped in some western European Scandinavian countries where there is no capital punishment. It only goes to prove that the deterrence value of the capital punishment is just a myth.

The appeal system that has been designed to ensure that only the guilty are actually punished is so lengthy that it results in the accused having to wait for years in anticipation of his possible execution. Anticipation of death is more painful than death itself. I feel it is absolutely inhuman to kill a man day after day, leaving him rehearse his death second after second, until he is finally executed.

Let us look at the alternatives for capital punishment. The first and only alternative is life imprisonment without parole. This means that a criminal, who has committed a ruthless crime, is fed by the tax payer’s money in jail, where he just lives without being of any productive help to the society. Why must the tax payer’s money be used for feeding hardcore criminals? It is a logical question. My only answer is that possibilities must be explored to reform jails, make them productive and economically self sustaining. The best example is the Tihar Jail in Delhi, where inmates produce and sell goods. This is one good way to motivate the jail inmates, give them a sense of belonging and reform them. After all, no one is a born criminal.

If we take a look at those people who are sentenced to capital punishments the world over, it dawns on us that most often it is the poor people, first time criminals and those who commit crimes unplanned. The shrewd, professional criminals who commit crimes and get crimes committed, do so with thorough planning and execute with certain amount of professionalism. They ensure that no evidences are left behind and no trails are pointing to them. Even if caught, they have the money power to hire top notch professional lawyers who try to show a murder as culpable homicide, a term which changes the entire connotation of the case being tried. If proved, one can never be sentenced to death for committing a culpable homicide. The arguments range from establishing temporary insanity of the accused during the crime to proving that the act was in self defence of a possible murder assault. The rich can afford the bail, bid time to obfuscate the evidences and try any and every method to get away or mitigate the punishment that could be awarded.

What if the accused is poor? How many common men can afford professional lawyers? Doesn’t it seriously affect his capabilities to defend himself well? Also, Death sentences most often are dealt out in cases where the murder was totally unplanned. Most often, the planned murders escape the legal network using all the loopholes simply for the fact that it was planned in the first place. Even at the cost of insinuation, I wish to state that there is an inherent unfairness that exists in the legal system of any country. How much ever one tries to be ideal, the legal system has its own limitations and loopholes. None of us may openly admit the same, but neither can we completely deny the same in our naked honesty.

The principle of justice flows from the ideology that a hundred criminals may go free but not one innocent must be punished. If that be so, and keeping in mind the inherent loopholes of legal system as such, then is it ethical and fair to sentence someone to death for how much ever grievous crime he is supposed to have committed? Do we have the right to take away what we never gave or what we can never give eventually?


Prophet of Doom said...

Karthik, I agree with your views about the death sentence. However, if we take into consideration the capital punishment system in the Islamic countries, it seems to make sense as a crime-deterrent.

"The principle of justice flows from the ideology that a hundred criminals may go free but not one innocent must be punished." ... I guess you're referring to the "Innocent until proven otherwise" policy of the Indian judiciary. The French system has acheived the opposite end, wherein every individual, guilty or otherwise, under trial is lodged in jail, until he/she has been acquitted. Now this isn't perfect either, for obvious reasons.

So, what then is the ideal justice system ?

L>T said...

I think capitol punisment embodies the 'eye for an eye' principal.
& It's the poor that are sacrificed.
You are right, it's barbaric.

Deterrent? In the U.S. we are building prisons all the time to house more criminals. lAWMAKERS TRY TO APPEASE THE POPULULATION (sorry caps lock) by making more laws. It's ridiculas.

I wish i had an answer.

soumya said...

not ony for capital punishment but all kinds of punishment are mostly for poor...

i say one thing...

why ppl advocate save tiger or lion programmes... these wild animals also harm innocent... ppl say these animals have no other way... same logic shud be applied for humans... instead of killing we can put them in seclusion...

Karthik "KK" said...

Hey Karthik.. nice and thoughful read.

I don't see the harm in punishing the right people with a death sentance. I feel terrorists whose crimes we are sure of (like mahmood azhar and other such people) should be straight away be given the capital punishment. Why do they deserve a chance to live? The worst thing is people come out on the streets and support a known killer to gain publicity and political mileage. Would they do it if one of their own had been the victim?

Then again.. I agree that the poor do suffer for lack of ways to defend themselves. A Solution to avoid this - now thats a tough one.


Shashank said...

Hey doc whats up, long time no write ehh.
I agree capital punishment is not right and only one time criminals r get the noose. but what i also believe is that there must be harsh punishment for criminals, i m specifically talking bout rapists.
people who would do such an act , with victims as women, girls or even babies , must b given hell in return not just plain life sentence or death sentence. I mean i wud really like tht too happen.