Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: life sentence

California shall retain death penalty

People of California have a referendum on Proposition 34 which is about retention of death penalty. Around 260 murderers face death penalty in California. Some groups are canvassing for abolition of death penalty. Some are in favour of death penalty. It is sad that Catholic bishops favour abolition.

People of California should learn lessons from Mexico which did away with death penalty. Murders take place openly without any fear. That has led to rival gangs engaging in shootouts anywhere, anytime. Policepersons are not safe. Priests, teachers and many others are murdered at random. California should imitate Texas which executed around 254 persons in 11 years. Texas’ Governor Rick Perry earned applause for his statement that he does not lose sleep over people executed.

Life sentence is not a deterrent for murderers. Many murderers come out on parole. Sometimes governors pardon murderers. Haley Barbour pardoned around 210 convicts including many murderers on his last day as Governor of Mississippi. Families of victims were shocked. There was not even 30-days notice. Judges did not strike down the pardon. Similarly another governor had pardoned many murderers on his last day in office.

Many times evil presents itself as good. Jesus in his parable of wheat and darnel warned people to be careful of evil. It is evil to oppose death penalty for murder. People in favour of death penalty should do their best for retention of death penalty in California and also strive for death penalty for murder in other states and countries.

Death penalty in all cases of murder

Judgments in cases of Priyadarshini Mattoo and Pratibha have raised questions about what is a rarest of rare case. Supreme Court in 1980 restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases. It usurped the function of legislature.

The government must act and bring a law that makes death penalty mandatory in all cases of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hijacking, kidnapping and other such high crimes.

In Priyadarshini’s cases the criminal had committed house breaking, rape and murder. High Court had awarded death penalty. Supreme Court reduced it life imprisonment. As Adiya Nath Kaul said on CNN-IBN on 8/10/2010 life sentence in India is a joke. He gave the example of Manu Sharma.

In Pratibha’s case fast track court took five years. It awarded life sentence for rape and murder. Pratibha’s mother and family members wanted death penalty to the murderer.

There is no good reason not to have death penalty for murder. One bogus argument is life sentence is worse than death sentence. Criminals value their lives. When someone is hanged for murders that has a deterrent effect. Those who undergo life sentence can come out on parole. If they disappear it is difficult to find them. In Bombay 14,870 accused have jumped bail and 717 criminals have jumped parole.

Someone asked whether hanging Dhananjay Chatterjee stopped rapes and murders? If more rapists and murderers had been hanged there would have been less rapes and murders. Pratibha could have been alive. One swallow does not make a summer. After Dhananjay Chatterjee no one sentenced to death was hanged. Crimes are few in Saudi Arabia. In USA there were many kidnappings and abductions which came down after death penalty became punishment for kidnappings and abductions.

Parole and ICU

Some months back Praveen Mahajan, serving life sentence for murder of Pramod Mahajan, was out on parole. On the last day of parole he was supposed to have suffered brain haemorrhage and was admitted to an ICU in a hospital. After that his family said they do not have money to pay for his medical expenses and wanted the state to pay for his medical expenses. The state was looking into the issue on humanitarian grounds.
In India there is lot of sympathy for criminals and no sympathy for victims or their families. There should not have been parole. Many times criminals who come out on parole do not return to prisons. Many times criminals give false reasons and come out on parole and enjoy life. Manu Sharma was an example.
It is not known what decision the government of Maharashtra has taken or where the matter stands. The government should not pay for anyone who is out on parole. If the government has a taken a decision to pay it must scrap it and if any money is paid it must recover it from the family. It is easy to get a false medical certificate and any criminal can get admitted to a hospital on the last day of parole and make the government pay for medical expenses and enjoy life somewhere else. India should abolish parole.
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