I Stand For Mercy

My heart has been heavy these last few days.  It aches for the mothers of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and the other inmates who faced the firing squad with them.  For all the mothers, the fathers, the families of those waiting on death row around this world.  What a terrible, despairing wait that must be. 

I’m well aware that there are so, so many awful events happening at this time.  The rising toll in Nepal.  The rising toll of women being murdered because they are women.  Riots in Baltimore.  The thing is, it seems I can have an opinion, thoughts and feelings on more than one topic at a time.  One tragedy does not negate another.

The thing about capital punishment is, that it’s not a deterrent – and that is not just me saying that.  Amnesty International conducted research into this.   And look at the ABC’s Fact Checker. So then,  is it punishment?  They’ve already been punished, by their prison sentence.  They could be sentenced to a life term.  Why rehabilitate just to kill them?  It makes it feel like revenge to me.  Like making a nasty point.

What about a second chance, learning?  We all make mistakes, especially when we’re young.  And aren’t I lucky to have made minor mistakes when I was young.  Aren’t I lucky to have had the support system in place so that I wasn’t in a situation where I could make such a mistake?  Aren’t I lucky that I haven’t fallen through a crack, stumbled at the wrong  time.  There but for the grace of god…….

There was a tweet from one of our politicians, and I cannot find it now, but it basically said that capital punishment is a gross abuse of state power.  Who are ‘we’ to take life?  Why should others be made to do it on our behalf? 

Shouldn’t society or the community take the responsibility for the failures that result in these young people making these mistakes, ending up in these situations?  Killing them is not taking responsibility.  Killing them seems like shirking that responsibility. 

It is a regressive act and gains nothing.  Keeping these men alive, in jail, where they could educate, heal and even save others would have been far more beneficial to the community.  Killing them only means that now, they aren’t there.  Fellow inmates can’t learn from them.  They won’t be able to speak to others anymore.  And it won’t stop others.  Especially those in desperate times.  Those who feel they have no choice.  Those who feel trapped, threatened, alone.

I’m not talking about not punishing.  It’s about being the better person.  Taking the ‘higher ground’.  Remembering they are human beings.  Developing and demonstrating a moral and ethical choice to those that we are responsible for.  I’m not saying that it’s easy.  Terrible crimes need to have consequences.  There does need to be an element of punishment, deterrent and rehabilitation involved.  But adding more dead bodies and destroying more families. 

How does that help? 

 

  • I agree, if taking a life is held to be morally and ethically wrong, then how can it ever be argued that it is a different matter if it is actioned by the state (and nothing holds that the state is above corruption)? It’s simply more murder. A very sad state of affairs.
    Thank you for a thoughtful piece on the subject.

  • 2 wrongs don’t make a right do they? I saw the film ‘Dead Man Walking’ years and years ago. They make this point in the film. Initially, the camera is focused on the inmate behind bars, but as the film progresses the nun assigned to visit him through the process begins to feel trapped and helpless and the camera angle adjusts to represent this. It is really cleverly done. My thing is, if a person does something wrong and is put behind bars the majority of the suffering is with him. But if they face the death penalty, then it is their (innocent) family and friends who are left to suffer and grieve.

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