Carvajal: Death penalty

IN THE global level, one argument against the death penalty is that it has not been scientifically established that it substantively deters people from heinous crimes.

Psychopaths do not fear death. They actually act out a death-wish through their crimes. Criminals driven by poverty will always risk death out of desperation. And of course, we will always have people who will be blinded fearless of death into committing crimes of passion.

In the local Philippine setting, one more argument against it is our two-tiered justice system that dispenses one kind of justice for the rich and powerful who can afford expensive, high-powered lawyers and corrupt judges and another kind for the poor who cannot afford those (il)legal parachutes.

One group of criminals might actually be deterred from their brand of crime if our justice system was not flawed in their favor. These would be rich death-dealing drug lords and rich-by-plunder government officials. Neither psychopathic nor poor but simply heinously greedy, they might think twice before dealing in death through drugs or plundering people’s money if they see that they have a good chance of dying in the gallows.

They might but they do not fear death because our flawed justice system gives them all kinds of opportunities to pay their way out of the death penalty. Their wealth and positions of power let them buy high-powered but less than uncompromisingly ethical lawyers and no less corrupt judges that would let their criminal liability go away.

If, therefore, the death penalty is to be imposed effectively as planned on drug lords and plundering officials, another heinous crime should be added to those punishable by death. That would be the crimes of unethical practice for lawyers and for acceptance of bribes by judges in the defense and hearing of heinous crime cases.

Loathsome as the death penalty is, I am able under prevailing social conditions to reason my way towards endorsing it for drug lords, crooks in government and for lawyers and judges who employ unethical practices in helping the former get off the hook not rarely by pinning the crime on some poor scapegoat. Death behooves them for their crimes against humanity. Besides, anybody has a better idea how to mitigate the greed of these people?

Anyway, unless we level the playing field of justice, heinous crimes will not abate with the death penalty. Psychopaths, blinded-by-passion persons and poor criminals have no fear of death for obvious reasons while drug lords and plundering officials will routinely pay their way out of the death penalty.

And we are not even talking morality yet. But anyway, without it we can at least have the semblance of being a civilized nation.
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