The death penalty has always been a divisive subject, with people on opposing sides passionately defending their opinions on the matter. So should we look at reinstating the death penalty in Australia?
To me, it has always been a simple answer. I don’t believe in the death penalty. Yes, my religion plays a part in this, but in this piece I won’t be delving into that part of my objection. I will be writing from a personal, ethical point of view.
First, the nature of the crime needs to be established. Obviously it would only be considered in the most depraved crimes.
When a heinous crime is committed, someone has to pay. I have no problem with this concept at all. If you commit a crime, there are consequences, plain and simple. What I DO have a problem with is the death penalty itself.
Over the years, many innocent people have been put to death for crimes they didn’t commit. Science has evolved and DNA evidence has been able to posthumously clear the name of several people who were wrongly convicted, and wrongly killed.
But what about people like Ivan Milat who we know is guilty of sickening, serial torture and murder? Plenty of people would be happy to see him dead, and I understand that. I really do. Milat has never shown remorse, repeatedly smiling at news cameras, smug and self-satisfied. What his victims endured is something we will never fathom. And I have no doubt there are more out there, yet to be found.
If Australia had the death penalty, and chose to use it with Milat, I have no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands of people would be cheering on hearing of his execution. But to me – it’s too easy. Why should he be ‘put to sleep’ and not have to be punished? I don’t think the death penalty is actually a punishment. I think it is the easy way out for the offender.
I would rather see them spend their lives in a small and basic cell with nothing but time to reflect on what they’ve done and have access to the bare essentials. I am tired of a ‘life’ sentence in Australia usually being no more than 25 years. Life should mean exactly that.
My other objection to the death penalty is that in executing a criminal, we are stooping to their level – taking a life. Who are we to decide who should and shouldn’t die? What if we get it wrong? What if Australia had the death penalty when Lindy Chamberlain was wrongly convicted?
On April 28, 1996, Australia was plunged into infamy when Martin Bryant killed 35 people in the world’s (then) largest mass murder by a single person. He is serving 35 life sentences, plus 1035 years for other charges relating to one of the darkest chapters in our history. Bryant has also been diagnosed with several serious psychiatric disorders as well as being intellectually impaired. His mental age is thought to be that of an 8-year-old child.
He pled guilty to the crimes committed at Port Arthur, and has since attempted suicide 6 times. A cell had to be custom built at Risdon prison to stop him from achieving his goal of killing himself with differing methods. He is now serving the rest of his sentence in the psychiatric institution for the criminally insane. Sometimes I have wished they would have let him do it – but does that mean I am contradicting myself?
I don’t believe the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Statistics show it doesn’t lower crime rates. I do believe, however, that the Australian judicial system is, at times, extremely soft. Criminals who have raped and murdered, criminals who have abused and tortured children are given ‘life’ sentences – with a non-parole period. Shouldn’t the very notion of a ‘life’ sentence mean that parole is never going to be an option?
I also think that if you have committed a serious, pre-meditated crime (or crimes) and have shown no remorse (take Ivan Milat as an example) then you should not have the right to anything more than a bed, toilet and possibly a desk in your cell.
No television, no access to daily newspapers – no setting it up like a cozy, personalized home. These people aren’t 5 year olds who have been sent to their rooms, many are savage, predatory and perverse. They shouldn’t have the right to make their cell a warm, comforting place.
In my opinion, the death penalty is the easy option. I don’t view a permanent sleep as punishment. I think the concept of solitary confinement with basic amenities and very few rights is more of a punishment that executing someone.
And make a life sentence really be for life. The fact that 2 of the men involved in the murder of Anita Cobby have been able to apply for parole (always denied) is farcical. They should never set foot back in society. I realize some criminals should be offered the chance to be rehabilitated, but certain crimes are too evil, too cruel, and too animalistic for the perpetrators to ever be offered the opportunity to live as free individuals.
What is your opinion on the death penalty? Should we look at reinstating it? Is ‘an eye for an eye’ the answer?