Archive for the ‘death penalty’ Category

What do we make of  violent offenders in the Caribbean? Are they just bad pennies gone crazed and wild? Will a strict dose of punishment set them straight, re-direct similar others looking on?

Thinking of the demands for death penalty which sweep our countries cyclically, whenever something violently tragic, beyond comprehension is perpetrated, should we not be more curious, especially in those moments,  to understand the root causes and catalysts of extreme social dysfunctionality.

Those who commit violent crimes, ending life, sending families into shock and pain from which recovery is remote, oppressing and destabilising our communities seem of a type. The perpetrators are not a random and varied lot. For sure, most who may share similar personal histories are not offenders. Yet  it does seem that those who commit violent crime have socio-economic similarities. They are largely men, young men. Generally they grow up without the presence and care of their fathers, under-achieve and drop out of school early, may have learning challenges, have experienced childhood abuse/neglect or seen violence, have rather limited notions of their life chances and harbour a great deal of resentment and disconnection from their community. Probably they also have very low thresholds of self-confidence, easily provoked into feelings of being disrespected, with anger management and self-control problems. They may be impulsive, unthinking, irrational, uncaring about consequences.

I know there are those who place a heavy premium on personal choice and decision-making; you can rise above your background or context. And that may be so for many people, even most, but that does nothing to negate the experiences of those whose mix of volatile personality traits and social environment make them a menace to their communities and themselves.

Violence and humiliation are rooted in Caribbean history as expressions of domination.  Violence also expresses discontents and alienation. Can violence, even intended as deterrence, really take us forward towards peace and security?

Rather, is there a greater likelihood of effective response if we focus more sharply on  causative factors? 



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