DEATH PENALTY (A group work position paper)

(By: Acutina, Ambrocio, Chan, Cuenca, Cutinha, Gerafil)

INTRODUCTION

The death penalty is a government-sanctioned punishment by death. Death penalty in the Philippines is stated on the Republic Act No. 7659 which is an act to impose the death penalty for certain heinous crimes, amending for that purpose the revised penal laws, as amended, other special penal laws, and for other purposes. Whereas, the crimes punishable by death under this Act are heinous for being grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society;

The death penalty can be traced back during the Pre-Spanish time where Filipinos although infrequent, is already practicing it. The Spanish also imposed it on locals who rebelled against them and it was retained during the American period.  Of course, who would forget the 1965-1986 Martial LAW? Even though it was abolished during Cory Aquino’s term, it was re-imposed when Ramos stepped into the presidency. It was also present in Estrada and Arroyo’s term.

Today, Death Penalty has been again, active in discussions around the country where Filipinos argue whether it is practical, beneficial, and necessary, if re-established. in tackling about this topic, we must ask ourselves this question, “how can it be justifiable if we don’t know if WE HAVE established our justice system out of a desire for rehabilitation or out of a desire for retribution?” Looking at the Philippine context, due to various reasons and particular situations, we view death penalty, as impractical, not beneficial, and unnecessary.

PRACTICABILITY

Death penalty is impractical in the Philippines because our state has a flawed judicial system, it opposes to the culture of the majority and it is simply not compatible with our unfortunate kind of economy thus it is not a proven deterrence to crime.

The death penalty is not practical in the Philippines because we have a flawed judicial system. According to an essay about the practicality of death penalty by Valderrama, it was stated there that, “For the death penalty to be practical and efficient, a fair criminal justice system is essential. However, The criminal justice system in our country is full of defects such as faulty police work, coerced confessions, inept defence counsel, perjured testimony and trial court decisions based on seemingly inconclusive evidence. In addition, the Supreme Court, in a 2004 decision, made 72% judicial errors. How can death penalty be a practical one when the judiciary of the country is inefficient and full of incompetence?” “We have to address the long pestering issue of impunity. Poor law enforcement results in breakdown of law and order.”

The death penalty is not practical in the Philippines because it opposes to the culture of the majority of the Filipinos. For we believe in the value of life. In a sense, people want death penalty because we don’t want killings to happen yet we impose killing for killing. We may say that death penalty should only be for heinous crimes but at the end of the day, yes, we know which crime requires severe punishment but do we know enough to decide which life to take and when we take it?

In connection to that, it is simply not compatible with our economy because according to the PSA, poverty incidence among Filipinos is rising to 25.8% in the first half of 2014, from 24.6% in 2013. By this and by how we see our country, we can really say that poverty is everywhere. The death penalty is very impractical to the Philippines for people would, again and again, do anything by any means necessary just to feed their families even though that would mean dirty works and punishment. Emotions overpower judgment in times of desperation. “In a 2004 survey, of 1,121 death row inmates in the Philippines, it was found that majority of the inmates knew of the death penalty before they committed their offenses. Clearly, death penalty has little deterrence to none.”

The death penalty in the Philippines is not practical because our system and our economy is still not ready for it. However, it will never make our country any better. We opt to have the death penalty to protect our country from criminals yet imprisonment can do that. Instead of killing them, why won’t we have them for special labour work that could help us in many ways just like the Palawan- Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm where inmates are made to work in farms?  By that way, we are saving ourselves from the condemnation of taking a human life and at the same time doing something that could practically help our economy.

BENEFICIALITY

  • It Teaches the Condemned Nothing

What is the purpose of punishment?  We take our lead from one major source, our parents—and there’s no doubt that they took their lead from their own parents. When your child tries some crazy acrobatic move off a piece of furniture and hurts himself, you might spank him to be sure that he remembers never to do it again.

So when the child grows up, breaks into a home, and steals electronics, he gets caught and goes to prison.  His time in prison is meant to deprive him of the freedom to go where he wants anywhere in the world, and to do what he wants when he wants.  This is the punishment, and most people do learn from it.  In general, no one wants to go back.  But if that child grows up and murders someone for their wallet or just for fun, and they are in turn put to death, they are taught precisely nothing, because they are no longer alive to learn from it.  We cannot rehabilitate a person by killing him or her.

  • It Does Not Dissuade

If the foreknowledge of any punishment is meant to dissuade the criminal from committing the crime, why do people still murder others? One thing is, capital punishment does not appear to be doing its job; it doesn’t seem to be changing every criminal’s mind about killing innocent people.  If it does not dissuade, then it serves no purpose. The warning of life in prison without parole must equally dissuade criminals.

  • It Is Hypocritical

It is strange that a nation would denounce the practice of murder by committing the very same act.  By doing so, we’re essentially championing the right to life by taking it from others.  If the goal of any punishment is to teach us those things we should not do, then the justice system should more adequately teach the criminality of killing by refusing to partake in it.

  • Prison Is Hell on Earth

Consider a pedophile who kills an infant girl by raping her.  There is an unwritten “code of honor” in prisons that virtually requires inmates to kill such offenders.  Probably half of America’s prisoners were in some way abused as children, and harbor a seething hatred for those who abuse children.  The murdering pedophile is given the death penalty, but will probably spend ten years beforehand in prison.  He will most likely be housed in solitary confinement for his own protection, but there are frequently holes in such protection, and the inmates may find their way to him. And if this happens, pedophiles are often gang-raped, castrated, beaten to death, stabbed, and sometimes even beheaded before guards—who may deliberately ignore the scene—can save them.

Most prisoners consider each other to be in the same predicament, and treat each other quite well in general.  But they are still in prison, and despair about their lack of freedom.  What is life like for Zacarias Moussaoui, the member of the September 11 hijacking teams who got caught a month before the attack?  A single juror saved him from death.  He has, since 2006, been incarcerated for twenty-three hours per day in a tiny concrete cell, with one hour of daily exercise in an empty concrete swimming pool; he has no access to other inmates, and only rare contact with guards, who say nothing to him; he can see nothing of the outside world except a tiny sliver of sky—and his will be his life. Capital punishment is an unnecessary threat.

NECESSITY

  1. It constitutes cruel and unusual punishment

            In a 2006 execution, Angel Nieves Diaz, was killed using a so-called “humane” lethal injection, but it took 34 minutes and 2 doses before she died. Other methods that are used for death penalties which were learned from the interrogation methods used by the CIA on terrorism suspects which includes: rectal infusion —, gun drill —, water  boarding, chaining, nudity. Death penalty also violates the most basic of all human rights, which is the right to live. It also violates the right the people should not be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane punishments.

  1. The risk of executing innocent people

            Death penalty is irreversible and these may lead to people paying for the crimes they did not even commit. This kind of things really happen even how really developed a country and its justice system is because it is always susceptible to human failure. Also, unlike prison sentences, death penalty is irreparable. One case was of Cameron Todd Willingham, which was found innocent after his execution in 2004. And other people who were wrongly convicted of a crime, they are suffering for years or decades, thinking what will happen to them which is like mental torture. There are also cases in which death penalty is often used in a disproportional manner against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and political and religious groups.

  1. Death denies opportunity of rehabilitation

            Many people believe that people who are sentenced of death penalty should get second chances, because for them, people who are in death rows never got any first chances. And also for them what makes a criminal is poverty, racism, neglect, violence that came from society or from parents, and mental illnesses, which can be treated and lessen the effects on them or can change them to become a better individual through rehabilitation. One case was of Stan Tookie Williams, a former leader of the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles. While in bars he reflected in life and wrote a series of anti-gang books for the youth. For years, Stan has been talking to students via telephone urging them to stay away from the gang life. He captivated the youth, his message resonated, and his books were very effective, but instead of recognizing what he has done behind bars and how he changed, he was still executed in 2005.

  1. There is no evidence that it will reduce crime rates

            There is actually no evidence that implementing death penalty will reduce the crime rates. Yes, people might fear the said punishment but this does not apply to all. The implementation of death penalty, especially on those innocent people might actually be the reason why people would protest against the government or worse, would be criminals themselves in seek of vengeance. According to the NC Coalition for Alternatives to Death Penalty, the murder rate for the state of North Carolina actually declined following a halt in utilizing execution as a form of punishment. The coalition also points out that, “…most people on death row committed their crimes in the heat of passion, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while suffering from mental illness. They represent a group that is highly unlikely to make rational decisions based on a fear of future consequences for their actions.”

CONCLUSION

            Therefore, we conclude that death penalty’s disadvantages ultimately outweigh its advantages. Thus, death penalty is impractical, not beneficial and unnecessary. For as the famous mahatma gandhi would say, “an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

 (Credits to our references)

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