St. Kitts Brings Back The Noose

The Caribbean island of St. Kitts has reinstituted the death penalty for violent crimes, hoping to deter a recent increase in murders on the tiny island.

They came for the condemned man on the stroke of midnight. But for Charles Elroy Laplace there was no slap-up last supper of the type served on Death Row in America, nor the company of a reassuring pastor. Instead, he was bound hand and foot and cast on to a grubby mattress in the corner of his fetid cell, then left for eight hours to contemplate his impending fate.

Paralysed and rendered incontinent with fear, Laplace lay there all night, begging the Lord for mercy and pleading for someone to call his mother or his lawyer - anyone who might save him at the last. But his wretched entreaties were drowned out by the singing of his prison guards, who saw fit to celebrate his coming execution with a rum-fuelled 'gallows party' that lasted long into the small hours.

The article goes on to describe the hangman and reasons the island is resuming hangings. [More...]

This paragraph is interesting:

For a variety of reasons, the Privy Council often rules capital punishment 'unconstitutional'.

And if defence lawyers can drag a case on for more than five years, hanging is commuted to life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds because the murderer is deemed to have suffered enough while waiting on Death Row.

Jamaica may be next to resume executions:

In Jamaica, whose population is barely bigger than that of Birmingham, but which last year suffered some 1,300 murders - twice as many as in the whole of Britain - the Senate has just voted to keep hanging on the statute books.

No one has been hanged there since 1988 but legal experts believe the drugs-related killing spree has reached such a critical point that it is sure to be resumed soon.

The public fervor to bring back the death penalty on these tiny islands is causing at least one prominent defense attorney to refuse to take death cases -- but in his case, it sounds more like he has a moral and personal conflict:

Even the island's most senior criminal defence lawyer, Methodist pastor Reginald James, told me he would no longer represent convicted murderers after completing his current caseload, which includes an appeal for a pastor's son alleged to have murdered his sister-in-law.

'We have never had so many killings on this island and we must do something to stop it,' lamented the 68-year-old barrister, adding that as a Christian and patriot, his conscience no longer allowed him to fight to spare murderers from the gallows.

Will the executions stop the violence? Doubtful.

Whether his hanging - if it takes places - will stem the bloody tide of murders in paradise remains to be seen, though given that three people were shot just a day after the authorities made an example of Charles Laplace, it seems unlikely. In the final analysis, perhaps the only real winner will be Simeon Govia, the gigolo hangman.

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    It will absolutely stop repeat offenders. Whicj os something that life sentences too often fail to do.  

    As The Daily Mail Story Notes (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by kaleidescope on Sat Jan 10, 2009 at 08:52:23 PM EST
    The day after Laplace was hanged, three people were shot on St. Kitts.

    life sentences without parole (none / 0) (#8)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 08:21:23 AM EST
    Unfortunately and sadly, those sentenced to life too often kill again.  

    This is but one example:

    Allen was convicted in the 1974 murder of a 17-year-old robbery accomplice who had snitched on him. While in prison, he ordered the murders of three witnesses who had testified against him. He was sentenced to death in 1982 for those killings.

    no ... coherent rationale

    One coherent rationale is that those that  commit a crime that will carry a life sentence would have every incentive to murder witnesses as those additional murders carry no additional penalty.  

    Another coherent rationale is that those that serving a life sentence would be able to commit additional murders for no additional penalty.

    Life without parole is death by confinement.  Barbaric.


    Like the local sage says: (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Sat Jan 10, 2009 at 03:40:38 PM EST
    'Hanging won't stop nothing. You check?' one man who called himself Bugie told me indolently.

    'It'll just make people do their killing cleaner so they don't get caught.'

    That's about it - and it looks like the apparent ineptitude of their police will prove him right.

    Actually, it will probably result in more murders (none / 0) (#3)
    by jussumbody on Sat Jan 10, 2009 at 04:48:53 PM EST
    Especially if there are crimes besides murder that are hanging offences, those who commit them will be more careful to kill their victims and any potential witnesses.  I had a friend who lived in Africa where just carrying a knife could get you a death sentence.  As a result, no one but murderers carried knives, and those who did were sure to use them.  Every Western house had guards and servants, and so did the ruling class.  And if there was a burglary or robbery, all the guards, dogs, servants and anyone else at home were killed.

    Quick, name the country. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Jan 10, 2009 at 06:17:09 PM EST
    A country where carrying a knife can get you a death sentence.  I find that hard to believe.  How about a kitchen knife?  

    I firmly believe (none / 0) (#7)
    by JamesTX on Sat Jan 10, 2009 at 11:53:59 PM EST
    what others above have said about it not being an effective deterrent. That is not just true for the death penalty, but with general policies of overly severe punishment to fight crime. Unfair punishment quickly leads to loss of respect for the law, as the law is not fair, and thus not respectable. When the severity of punishment exceeds what is reasonable for the crime, it leads to a general atmosphere of fear and corruption like we have seen emerge during the conservative "git tuff" movement. For example, with outrageous penalties for drugs, the only people who deal in drugs are either corrupt officials or organized crime -- both of whom are relatively immune from punishment. Both of those results are worse than the original problem.

    The effect is corruption and destabilization, because the laws are not fair and don't make sense to people in general. Since everything carries severe penalties, there has to be some way to shield the wealthy from the severe punishments when their human weaknesses are accidentally discovered. That leads to a byzantine, twisted and comically bizarre system of procedures and precedents that just simply don't make any sense to anybody, unless you figure in the "rich folks have to walk and poor folks have to die" factor.

    Essentially, going to extremes in severity of punishment simply destabilizes the system by eventually alienating large portions of the population. Those large portions of the population -- individually weak but still not irrelevant as a group -- see the injustice and lose faith in the system. Although those who administer and profit from the so-called justice arrogantly regard the views of the downtrodden as irrelevant in the shadow of their absolute power, eventually all systems of justice depend on those being governed.

    Severe punishment does not have the intended effects, regardless of how crime statistics may be cooked to make it appear to be so.