JIS News

Debate on the death penalty continued in the Senate yesterday (Dec.12) with Government Senator, Dennis Meadows, arguing that capital punishment denies due process of law, as it deprives an individual the benefit of new evidence, or new law, that might warrant the reversal of a conviction or setting aside of a death sentence.
“The death penalty violates the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of the law. It is applied randomly at best and discriminatorily at worst. It is disproportionate upon those who find the cost of a good advocate prohibitive,” Senate Meadows stated.
He further argued that the death penalty gives society the unmistakeable message that human life no longer deserves respect and obscures the true causes of crime.
He proposed proper moral socialisation; equitable distribution of goods and services including access to education from childhood upwards; harmonious social development; and first class judicial and rehabilitation systems, as some of the solutions to solving the crime problem.
Opposition Senator Norman Grant also agreed that hanging will not solve or reduce the problem of crime in Jamaica.
“What we need to do is to look at the problem and fix it,” he stated. “My real concern as it relates to the murder rate in Jamaica is that we are not catching them (the criminals). We need to remove them from society, but we don’t have to hang them to remove them from the society,” he pointed out.
According to Senator Grant, the world is turning away from the use of the death penalty and since 2003 the United States has been the only country in the Americas to carry out executions. He further informed that 137 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice and only 24 nations carried out executions in 2007.
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator, Basil Waite stated that the death penalty remains Jamaica’s most potent weapon against crime.
“I support the implementation of the death penalty and the retention of the death penalty on our books, because I believe it is one of the tools that we can use to tackle the crime that we have in our society,” Senator Waite said.
He noted however that implementing the death penalty by itself will not stop murders from being committed. “I think more importantly that there must be an assault on the garrison communities in the sense that we must implement social, economic and infrastructural improvements in these communities to improve the lives of these people,” he suggested.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Senator Warren Newby also stated his support of the death penalty.
The debate will continue on December 19.

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