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Yes, we do care about victims
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2002

THE EDITOR: We are sorry Geoff Hudson has misinterpreted our letter published on July 20, 2002, a significant part of which was indeed devoted to expressing concern and sympathy for victims of crime, as we always try to do when presenting our views on the death penalty (Callous murder - inhumane punishment, July 29, 2002).

We are happy to restate our position. We deplore murder and our opposition to capital punishment is not based on "totally misplaced sympathy and inappropriate concern" for those who commit it."

It is based on the fundamental principle that killing is wrong regardless of who carries it out, including the State. Violence is no answer to violence.

Mr Hudson is right that we did not refer to the deterrent effect of the death penalty.

There is a very good reason for that - there is absolutely no evidence that capital punishment deters.

That is widely accepted by the most eminent criminologists, and a United Nations study concluded "research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming".

During her time as Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno admitted she had been searching without success for most of her adult life for evidence that the death penalty deters.

Within Trinidad and Tobago, the unprecedented multiple hangings in 1999 did nothing to curb the murder rate.

Indeed, research has shown that judicial killing can actually have a brutalising effect, causing homicides to rise.

Of course those who commit murder must be punished and the public must be protected. But this can be done by non-lethal means.

On the important issue of assistance to those whose lives have been blighted by violent crime, we repeat that we fully support any government initiatives put in place to help them.

Far too frequently their pain is exploited for political gain when it comes to promoting the death penalty, while their practical and other needs are ignored.

We hope this letter makes our position clear to Mr Hudson and anyone else who may have misunderstood our reasons for opposing capital punishment.


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