No more hangings
Published: Sep 11, 2013
The Nassau Guardian has been on the record in its opposition to the death penalty. We published an editorial in October 2009 against capital punishment; a position we reaffirm today.
Crime remains prevalent and the criminal judicial system is still plagued by delays. Hence, law-abiding citizens are angry and seek solutions to restore order in our archipelago.
The latest violence in New Providence brought the murder count to 81 for 2013. The Bahamas recorded 85 murders in 2009, 94 murders in 2010, 127 murders in 2011 and 111 murders in 2012. In all likelihood The Bahamas will once again record more than 100 murders for the year. It is a terrible milestone that has become all too familiar. Our crime rates are high. Our communities, especially in New Providence, are more dangerous.
But executions by hanging will not solve our crime crisis. Bahamians face the threat of crime, petty and serious, everyday. There are simple reminders of its presence: not wearing gold jewelry, the addition of a dog for protection, or traveling less at night.
The call last week by the leader of the opposition, Dr. Hubert Minnis, for capital punishment is an inadequate attempt to bring a solution to a problem that has been out of control under Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) adminstrations.
Minnis said: “As for crime, the government must do whatever is necessary, expedite cases and hang individuals. You must hang. Hanging is on the books.”
Such comments do little other than to highlight the ongoing crime issues and inflame activist groups. Too much killing happens in The Bahamas already. We do not think adding state-supported executions will lead to the results intended. Instead, we should focus on reforming our criminal justice system to ensure that people who commit crimes are effectively prosecuted in a timely manner and incarcerated. It is unacceptable that suspected criminals often wait for years without trial. Meanwhile, they continue to harm others.
Abolishing the death penalty does not correlate with an increase in crime; it ensures that those responsible for breaking the law justly serve their time. Executions are irreversible and exonerations too common. Often, false testimonies from so-called credible witnesses convict innocent people without corroborating evidence. A life sentence is no more lenient than an execution; yet it provides a glimpse of opportunity for an innocent man to clear his name.
The last execution in The Bahamas – that of David Mitchell – took place in 2000. It should be recorded as the last in our history.