- Posted April 10, 2014 by
A Price for Life
Recently my Chinese teacher asked his students to give our opinion about death sentence, whether it is good or bad and do we agree on such policy or not.
Reflecting for this task, I remembered, the most recent case related to such judicial execution is high treason charged to Pakistan’s former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf. His court was conducted last Monday (3/31) and Musharraf faced a total of five charges, three among them are due to his action of subverting, suspending and changing the country’s constitution, one for terminating Pakistan’s chief justice, and one for introducing emergency rule. To everyone’s surprise, without giving any reason, Musharraf was represented by a new lawyer and he pleaded not guilty for each charges.
Judicial process in Pakistan is renowned as slow, inefficient, and corrupt. One year earlier, according to a feature published at The Diplomat magazine, Nadeem Hassan – not the real name, had been seeking to overturn in his death-sentence for 15 years. Hassan was charged for murder, which he pleaded as self-defense. Since Hassan had no financial capability to hire a private lawyer, state appointed a legal counselor to help him with this case. To make matter worse, Hassan asserted that this legal counselor asked him for bribes. Hassan came from a lower middle-class family and he was unable to give any money to this legal counselor. Nonetheless, he didn’t receive proper defense and was sentenced to death.
Thinking over these two situations, there is a big question should linger in everyone’s mind: is the price of one’s life determined by his lawyer’s rate? A wealthy defendant can hire a first-class lawyer, this way the odds of him receiving capital punishment are very near to zero. On the other hand, this situation also creates a contrast in any state’s criminal-justice system, where rich people are treated one way meanwhile poor people, with legal counselor who receives government salary, are treated another way.
For sure, there are many further aspects construct an opinion regarding capital punishment. There is an idealistic aspect in which the supporter of such execution might argue that death sentence can help restore moral balance - constitutionally. Using such point of view, if a criminal had tortured the victims until they died, this criminal has to suffer the same pain. In this case, death penalty might be seen as an equalizer medium.
Capital punishment sometimes also conveys political consideration. There is possibility that some policy makers use such penalty to influence political sentiment in and towards their countries. They, for example, might punish corruptors or addictive drugs smugglers with death sentence. Such policy might create positive impression of international world toward their administrations and increase foreign trust to their countries.
In contrast, some people who are against judicial murder might use economic consideration to back their point of view. Death penalty cases obviously spend much more money than non-death penalty cases, at least a million dollars more in the U.S. Instead of spending such amount for death row, state can invest it to increase education quality, or even to educate prisoners. This way, there is possibility younger generation will acquire better skills rather than committing robbery or any other crime or sell drugs. In case the education is conducted in prison, chances are instead of committing the same crime, the prisoners will know what to do after they are released.
Now the list goes long. In capital punishment, there is also a question regarding the most proper method to execute a criminal. Lethal injection might be up in the list since some people believe this is the right way to make such criminal experiences his own crime, which is making another people “aching to die”. On the other hand, some other people are against such method since they believe this will give the criminal the honor of euthanasia, the proper way to end our loved one’s suffering. Additionally, the medical practitioner who injects such “medicine” will never be able to fully escape their moral responsibility. Hence, some other groups argue that firing squad is the most proper way. The action of killing is diffused and it doesn’t soften the seriousness of both the crime and the punishment.
I concluded my writing by stating that in such sensitive matter, simplifying things to good or bad and agree or disagree might not be the best way to address things.
An illustraton of capital punishment. Credits: sites.psu.edu
Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan leader faced five charges with the possibility of being sentenced to death. Credit: www.newindianexpress.com
Supreme court of Pakistan, a place where final decision regarding capital punishment is in this country is made. Credit: www.supremecourt.gov.pk
An illustration of a lawyer defending his client in a capital punishment case. Credit: npr.org
A picture of California Executions Death Chamber. Lethal injection is one of capital punishment methods in debate. Credit: www.human-writes.org
Firing squad, another method of judicial murder in which some groups argue as the most proper method to impose capital punishment. Credit: www.philly.com