Death penalty has been one of the most debated topics in recent days. Rape cases have been reported more than ever now and it seems that the only way to deter such abominable crime is reinstatement of death penalty. But how practical is the proposed solution?
Just because an idea, an instinct seems good doesn’t necessarily mean it is right. Do certain crimes deserve death penalty? The answer, for me, is a tentative Yes. Heinous rape, murder, assault may deserve one. But is death penalty the solution? It is an emphatic No.
Is it because I sympathize with the rapists and think they deserve a second chance at life? The answer again is an emphatic No. Any person who finds it in him/herself to destroy the life of another person has already lost that chance. You don’t have to rape or murder someone to know it’s wrong. Rapists must be either castrated or even hanged or killed. That’s my stance on rape and always will be.
But is capital punishment practical? No. Because,
1) It provides too much power to the state. And if the state can’t provide life, it shouldn’t have the authority to take it.
2) There’s always the chance of an innocent being executed. You would be fine with the death of an innocent as long as 99 other perpetrators are executed as long as that innocent person is not related to you. But ‘It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer’ goes the Blackstone’s formulation about criminal law and we are talking about death penalty here.
3) DNA evidence isn’t always foolproof. You shed your DNA everywhere you go and therefore your DNA can land in places of crimes scenes even if you have never been there. Sometimes forensic investigators themselves contaminate the evidence accidently. Adam Scott was wrongfully convicted of rape due to a blunder in a British forensic laboratory. Despite his claims of being more than 200 miles away at the time of incident, he was detained for months on the basis of DNA matching before being exonerated. He was deemed to be “innocent victim of avoidable contamination” and “human error” by a British forensic science regulator
There have been numerous cases of people being wrongly executed in the past. Carlos Deluna, Ruben Cantu, Cameron Todd Willingham and many other people have been convicted by the court and later executed but the evidences on which such convictions were based on turned out to be compromised. Bringing a life back from the dead to correct the state’s mistake or forensic contamination isn’t possible and these men, along with many others lost their lives because of something they didn’t commit. They didn’t get a second chance to appeal.
Many others have later been exonerated on newly gathered evidences. Just some days back, there was a news report about a man convicted of raping a girl being exonerated after 13 and half years! Death penalty might seem like the ultimate deterrent against all crimes but there have been no available evidence to support that claim. The Great Britain (1973), Canada (1976), France (1981), Australia (1985), Italy (1994) and Spain (1995), among others, have eliminated capital punishment for murder after extensive study and debate.
The alternative to the capital punishment is imprisonment until the person dies with no chance of parole. And maybe also publicly parading them on streets. I have no problem with any brutal treatment to rapists but if found innocent, they must be compensated as such and that should also be made public.
Also, considering rape as an emotional urgency is utterly nonsense. If that is so then it should be okay for girls on their periods to go on a killing spree because we cannot control what’s natural no? If emotions are an excuse then doing things in a fit of anger should be excusable as well. Is it? Should I steal things if I like them and I can’t control my desire? People are responsible for their feelings and therefore must take full responsibility for that.
Understanding the reason for rape should be done from the ground level. It may be because of culture, environment and lack of education. These should be dealt with properly at the grassroots. Democracy will be in crisis if people feel their elected leaders aren’t coping well with issues like these. Framing of innocent people either to protect criminals or due to fear of them has already strained the confidence of people on their government officials. It should now be the task of these people in power to do everything they can without giving in to pressure and influence from external forces and uphold justice in the country.