Archive for December 1st, 2007

December 1, 2007

The killing fields.

It was a good day at work today working with Melissa Williams, Ria Rambally, Robin Morais and our own lovable elf Shiraz who was the lone editor for most of the day. We had a goodly number of stories and poor Shiraz managed to keep up with nary an incoherent utterance until Ricardo arrived to pitch in. Our first three stories were murders which means that we are now up to roughly 347 killings for the year..pretty scary for a nation of only 1.3 million. Admittedly, Jamaica is now over 1300 for the year but their population is  four times larger and they have a long history of violence. The Government seems clueless as to how to deal with the problem and just keeps throwing money after weirder and weirder schemes. Meanwhile, the T&T population seems fixated with the notion that resuming hanging will miraculously solve the crime problem. Any attempt to inform them there is no evidence whatsoever that capital punishment ( aka state sanctioned killing) has a deterrent effect on crime and that countries without it tend to have lower crime rates falls on deaf ears. The main problem here is that the apprehension rate is abysmal and the conviction rate is pretty much the same. A person thinking about committing a crime is not deterred by the prospect of capital punishment if they know they will most likely not be caught and even if they are the are likely to walk away from the courts a free man.

What amazes me  about this, to me , silly point of view is that it is invariably accompanied by a simplistic and convenient sort of morality. I am happy to admit I am pro-choice when it comes to abortion rights and I am also definitely against capital punishment. I do not take these stances based on an all-encompassing moral code I believe in a woman’s fundamental freedom to know what is best for her and I believe that it is inconsistent to condemn killing while allowing the State to  do it. With regards to the latter my common sense tells me it is better to have someone suffer incarceration for a lifetime rather than  dispatch that off quickly…even I am cruel enough to wish them the former. What truly amazes me is that those who support hanging here quickly bring up the “eye for an eye” argument conveniently forgetting, as Christians, that there was the small matter of the New Testament with a rather different view. They are also almost invariably against abortion rights noting that all life is sacred – how they reconcile these differing views I do not know but it frequently raises my blood pressure.

I do not know what causes someone to murder another person in a cold-hearted way. The mindset is beyond my comprehension and perhaps that is a good thing. It seems to me, though, it require some sort of balance between the size of a country and the size of the population. A larger island like Jamaica with a fairly large population and serious crime is a big problem. A small island with a high population density such as Barbados has a very low crime level..primarily because, I imagine, it isn’t hard to find the perpetrator and there is a disincentive to committing a crime. On Bonaire, with a small population and a small land area crime is almost non-existent. Guyana has a relatively small population and a huge land area – the result – there is high crime because it is possible to hide easily and also to find vulnerable people in isolated areas. I suppose the effectiveness of law enforcement also plays a factor but even that is affected by population size and land area. Canada is an interesting case with a low crime level, a small population relative to land area and a highly effective police service

While not as serious a crime scenario as homicide in Trinidad I also note with concern that The Spice Girls are about to hold a reunion concert in Vancouver – a heinous crime in my eyes – so perhaps Canada’s authorities may want to turn their attention to that particular travesty.