How Did We Get Here: Crime is ubiquitous, regardless of the basic system of government, pure democracy, absolutism, or oligarchical. Managing criminals remains a wedge issue, especially in countries that have automatic death penalty, as studies have shown.
Both advocates for and against capital punishment agree that it is a delicate balance in the region where public opinion can quickly drive policies. They argue that new rules tend to limit personal freedom, challenge human rights, and erode confidence, where there is little or no oversight on how the nation applies punishment.
For decades, homicide rates and other violence have not been reduced significantly before hanging faced several pushbacks from human rights organizations, shifting views that it is as barbaric as the crime committed by an offender. As a result, with mounting pressure some of these islands have implemented a moratorium.
The alternative is to commute sentences to life in prison even in aggravated murders.
The UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) has always been calling for a stop to the death sentence. And, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), it has advised to abolish or at least impose a moratorium on its application.
Revisiting History: Hanging is not new to society. Sadly, despite the deterrence implication, hanging has not always been for the condemned man. Several slaves who tried to escape their masters, or by hate groups simply for one being different have faced the rope.
It has also claimed victims because of sexual orientation, stemming from homophobia.
In the 1800s, most hanging took place in the public, and the community celebrated. Today, given the crime waves on these shores, how many would show up if hanging were to be held in the local parishes?
The scars from colonization have also left few mentally hanged from what is believed to poor economic rope despite modernization and independence. It is not an argument that today’s criminals are still linked to policies that are perhaps no different from hanging because they were simply an economic death.
Unforgiving Cord: It is an organized strangulation. This loss of consciousness makes death imminent. It is dependent upon the knot positioning and the length of drop, which has varied through the history of hanging.
According to several journals, hanging can range from head and neck injuries. When this occurs, compression or rupture of the vertebral and carotid arteries leads to cerebral ischaemia.
What has emerged recently is not a new structural push. The last hanging based on reports in Jamaica took place in 1998. Today, most polls show that Jamaicans welcome hanging as other parts of the Caribbean.
It sends a strong message that the society will not tolerate barbaric criminals.
Scholars also noted that, even in Jamaica’s final appellate court, it has consistently upheld submissions from defence attorneys for hangings to be commuted to life imprisonment
As the region struggles with just desserts, and incapacitation, or simply an eye for an eye justice, few will admit publicly that crime threatens not only the basic pursuit of happiness on the beautiful shores, and inside the green communities, but the overall economy that thrives on a global good image to attract visitors.
The Politics of Hanging: Capital punishment tends to be fought on both political and moral grounds despite an offender’s action.
When then opposition leader Andrew Holness ran his election campaign, he promised to be tough on crime. He is not alone calling for more drastic measures to fight crime. This push is not what rope will be used after an election, but a test to the limits of government, balance to the rule of law, freedom, human rights, the constitutional challenge and, simply, willingness to fulfill a political promise.
Despite opposition to this push to reinstate hanging, the ongoing killings need an answer.
The question remains can hanging solve that issue where there is still limitation on many fronts. The criminogenic circumstances are rising while opportunities and treatment for high risk offenders have disappeared.
First, the ability to find an offender and properly gather and maintain evidence is key to even conduct an impartial trial. Many still see a corrupt system with limited resources.
It is often plagued with questions about an accused from both sides of the judicial process than the final outcome of a condemned person.
Furthermore, how does a society change a decade of mentality? Even when exculpatory evidence is introduced it will take time to reverse an atmosphere of doubts from the history of distrust in government and its ability to perform basic functions.
Preventing Wrongful Execution: No one is implying that anyone charged with a criminal offense does not have the right to a hearing, or the courts themselves are incapable of conducting a trial or operating under a tree in primitive conditions. However, there still remains ambiguity in some of the rule applications.
Amnesty International reports that far too often some defendants do not have “prompt access” to counsel or representation at all stages of a trial. Therefore, one can be deprived of proper representation.
Sometimes the victims are against this practice, and what weight would be given to their rejections. Often they are being re-victimized, and lost in the debates.
What if this person has mental illnesses?
According to recent studies, nearly 44 million American adults, and millions of children, experience mental health conditions each year, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress.
What are the numbers in the Caribbean?
US President Barack Obama, in trying to highlight this issue, signed a proclamation on mental health.
Despite tools to diagnose someone with mental health, disparities and access to healthcare is a major problem, and individuals both in and out of the criminal justice system often go unnoticed.
Not all offenders who commit crimes are mentally ill.
Furthermore, changing an attitude about mental illness, where it is much easier to label a person a mad man/woman based on appearance, and where they sleep at nights.
This is what I call the appearance conviction
The lack of psychological and other analytical assessments to diagnose to make sure that an insane individual is even capable of standing trial before one’s ultimate fate seems lacking.
As studies have shown, capital punishment does not reduce crime. The region has to look at not only creating opportunities for the youths, but also closing the gaps between the haves vs the have-nots.
The salient jury where few still believe that freedom is more likely for person with the deepest pocket and well connected.
Where is the local debate and demand from the community to be heard and not a few tweets while the ability to solve crime still is an elusive concept.
What Next: Although Amnesty International has been proactive on few appeals and in conjunction with other human rights committees, it constantly finds violations, and these processes still need fundamental work, and to make sure one receives the support required to mount a challenge.
As these criminal elements continue, maybe a three strikes law will be the next recommendation, but one has to be able to solve the first crime and maintain good criminal records.
Sure, no one wants to live in fear, but new crime strategy has to balance power with victims’ rights, and a political, moral or social compass, and all measures have been taken.
Solving these issues is important and, leaders have to become more proactive in developing fundamental economic plans that will reduce the appetite for criminals.
This debate remains an uncomfortable feeling
Today the nation is wondering what next and how did this happen?
These barbaric ideological killings threaten to erode the perception of other beautiful coastlines. Businesses and leaders are now quickly gauging the image impact, and the economic and emotional impact is causing many to rethink their travel plans.
Just like a drug addict, several pockets of Jamaica have a severe criminal mentality issues that she must work to overcome immediately. A few parts of that region could use a detox, but with limited resources, and an unwillingness to accept makes this path to rehabilitation more difficult.
This it is not a random act; many have been saying quietly about an increasingly uncomfortable feeling being viewed like a weak animal in a jungle where a few in disguise wait for an opportunity to attack their prey for their own survival.
How many locally self-made businesspersons have been targeted and killed this year alone not because of any criminal involvement, but a mindset by few who see success as part of the problem.
Looking for Hope: Political strife has annihilated many of the youths, and the leadership from the police commissioner, community leaders, to national security minister, has to begin to take additional steps on what has already been begun to eradicate this disease, and an impression that no one has the tools to tackle it adequately. As a result, these barbaric acts are hatched based on crime of opportunity.
Several young people in the region are suffering from economic neglect. It is not an excuse, but being ignored; waiting on handouts has created more culpability not only to the locals daily, but also especially visitors who travel outside protected zones. Even if it is a humanitarian mission, those criminals do not differentiate.
Although hopelessness, lack of opportunity can breed crimes, these troubled individuals would be better served by seeking guidance on how to become successful, rather than practically using violence to satisfy an emotional and economic disconnect.
The headlines that have emerged on CNN and other media outlets seemed as a shock to viewers; however, for those looking in with close ties, or following the local news sporadically; it is not a farfetched headline.
Many locals have faced similar premature deaths and few answers after the cameras are off. These criminals are still roaming the streets, and if someone can identify some perpetrators, fear for one's own safety often results in silence.
That image thing: Although Jamaica is not alone seeing a high murder rate per capita, based on a recent United Nations report; however, it would be a mistake to draw a comparison to other nations. Comparison alone cannot cut crime; it should be a motivation.
Although few media outlets have spun the news in an attempt to change the negative image that it is not a reflection of the island in general. This statement is correct, but sadly, it might be too late to regain its boisterous image until fundamental changes can be implemented.
It is time for a massive march against crime to take back the island.
These crimes cannot be in street retaliation, carefully placed blames, or gun for a gun settlement or even a court sentence. A systematic problem can only be solved when leaders begin develop opportunities for a dying group of youths who remain stagnant.
They must form community involvement built on commitment and an acknowledgement that this increasing criminal mentality has to be addressed proactively or even capital punishment.
This recent killing is an image problem and confirms what many have feared and this beautiful mango fruit with a bright and beaming skin is rotting from its core. Poverty and the ever-widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots is one aspect of disparities and a moral compass that has no direction.
Reversing a barbaric mentality starts in the homes, and schools.
Leadership cannot continue to do photo-ops, believing that as long as there is an image of one love, things will solve itself.
Bob Marley’s image, Usain Bolt, and Shelly-Ann Fraser, or Shaggy and others in sports and entertainment superstars alone cannot save Jamaica if criminals continue to dominate the headlines. In fact, most these successful people’s permanent homes are outside of their native land.
No nation can survive if crime becomes an influence where criminals enrich themselves at the nation's expense. Furthermore, willingness by a few elected officials to squash laws because they were introduced by the other party therefore fails to compromise to fight these issues.
Who will gain: Given the recent report of a decline in the tourist industry, high debts, low manufacturing output, coupled with crime, one of its close neighbours, Cuba, is rising since new diplomatic relations with the US.
Having this headline does not help the cool and relaxing vibes this island sells.
As these missionaries’ deaths dominate global headlines, Cuba is showing an American cruise ship docked at its ports, looking to discover what has been missing for over 50 years.
A successful service-oriented economy is vital to maintain a good standard of living for individuals who work in that industry.
Despite the economic gap, they are connected and the impression of safety based on gated communities does not make it those problems over there. Crime anywhere is a safety problem everywhere
Moving Forward: These criminals are now emboldened, deploying a new strategy of kidnapping, and demanding ransom, but the nation cannot yield and they must be eliminated.
Although many are saddening by this act, the majority looking on still hope that future breaking news will not give people second thoughts about a visit to the island. This can only be possible if everyone takes on the role of community policing, advocates, and mentors and gives back in some capacity.
THE OPINION PAGES:
CLICK ON PHOTO LINK