September 23, 2011
QC: Jail is no big thing for murderers

Queen’s Counsel Parnel Campbell is of the view that once capital punishment is removed, human life automatically becomes worthless.{{more}}

Speaking on the topic ‘Capital Punishment’ on his television program “The Law and You” on September 19, Campbell asked the question “Where is the element of punishment when a man is sent to prison for life?”

According to Campbell, once the possibility that a would-be murderer could lose his or her own life is removed, there is hardly anything that could be done to stop someone from killing.

“They will figure, oh well! Look! It is worth spending the rest of my life in jail to kill so and so…,” Campbell said.

Campbell noted that from the evidence avaialble, many of the killings which have taken place recently have been deliberate, execution style killings.

“When a fellow walks up to another fellow and calmly puts a gun to his head and shoots him because they’re in rival gangs…but another goes and takes a chance and how is he punished when he is sent to prison for life? Where is the element of punishment in being sent to prison?” Campbell questioned.

He said when one goes to prison in St Vincent, the Government provides that person with food, clothing, recreation and adequate shelter for life. He explained that the courts have ruled that imprisonment with hard labour is unconstitutional. Campbell also said the court has further ruled that flogging is unconstitutional.

“So you can’t be flogged for offences you commit in there, you have to be properly treated…the State takes proper care of you; the only thing you are deprived of is the freedom to go about the place,” Campbell said.

According to Campbell, when he was the Minister of Justice between 1987 and 1995, and in charge of the prisons, one of the striking things he learned was that people who commit offences are not afraid of being in prison.

“The evidence of that lies in the high level of repeat offenders that we have in SVG…there are some fellas who go out and in, as if when they go out, they going out on a little holiday and they go back to their normal place of abode…Jail is no big thing, to them is not really a punishment,” he said.

Campbell said where we have a system, in which we have carefully removed the element of punishment from offenders, then people would just commit offences.

“Once you eliminate punishment from the criminal regime, then you simply would have people who couldn’t care what crimes they commit; they will take the chance that they will go undetected and even if they are detected and tried, they may go un-convicted and even if convicted, they go to a place of relative comfort,” Campbell added.

“In what way are we punishing people? And people who decide to kill deliberately, what is the punishment facing them? Very little…So what incentive do they have to stop killing? Practically none!”

Campbell said we must not be surprised when there are brutal killings, as it is just that there is hardly anything to deter the impulse to kill, if one gets sufficiently annoyed. (KW)