Surprised if death penalty resulted in fewer murders
It is my impression from reading David Abbot's letter ("Indonesian case again raises issue of death penalty", Mailbox, January 29) that he is very erudite on the topic of the punishment of crimes and their related objectives.
So, although in comparison I feel slightly unqualified to pass comment, I nevertheless feel some aspects of his letter cannot go unquestioned.
He appears to have some sympathy with the use of capital punishment by the Indonesian judiciary to deal with some of their law-breakers, and possibly with its reintroduction in this country should a referendum indicate that would be a popular decision.
Although I agree the offence in question in Indonesia – drug-trafficking – is a heinous activity, I think state-sponsored execution is not a very progressive way of dealing with such crimes.
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Especially as, in this particular case, the woman claims to have been the victim of extreme blackmail.
If true, the consequence of her trying to prevent any harm befalling her family is that she now faces the death penalty.
I am very doubtful if this woman is executed it will be at all beneficial in helping Indonesia solve its drug problems.
It might well be better off in joining those nations that are looking at more enlightened ways of addressing these problems in the world.
Regarding the reintroduction of capital punishment in the United Kingdom, it could certainly be interesting to see the result of a referendum on the issue.
Were the result in favour, I would hope our MPs would provide a moderating influence and ensure it would not be enacted.
I believe this would be likely and it would certainly go some way to maintaining my faith in our particular version of democracy.
Should I be wrong, I would be subsequently even more surprised to discover the use of capital punishment resulted in fewer murders.
I just can't see potential murderers pausing in their act of taking a life to reflect either on their likely punishment or what the outcome has been for similar people in the past.
In the case of premeditated murders, I expect such people never even consider that they may get caught.
So is it unreasonable to expect someone who has lost a loved one in a homicide not to be eager to see the culprit executed for their crime?
I think, in general, it probably is; though you do occasionally hear of some remarkably forgiving people in such circumstances.
However, my view is that although it is indisputable those left bereaved by a murder have a voice that should be heard, it can't be sensible for us all to imagine ourselves in their places when forming our views on how we want our judiciary to deal with such issues.
It may not to be everyone's liking, but I can't believe our laws would be better formulated and implemented if they were to arise from a consensual view vicariously associated with the hatred bereaved people justifiably have towards someone guilty of bringing devastating misery into their lives.
In conclusion, my response to David Abbott's view of a gang of robbers with their sawn-off shotguns in a post-office is that I would doubt killing people is an intended part of their plans.
Despicable though it is, aren't they just far more likely to be ensuring they can achieve their aims by gross intimidation?
That is not to say killings don't then also become a possibility which, regrettably, sometimes happens, or that anyone, including me, should not fear for their lives in such circumstances.
JTB, Broughton Astley.