Letters & Opinion

Harsher punishments for criminals can serve as deterrant for potential criminals in our society

Image of Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church in Saint Lucia, Rev. Seth Ampadu.

“Those who commit crimes in our society must be swiftly arrested, fairly tried, harshly punished, and held to proper restitution to deter potential offenders. People must answer for their actions.”

Image of Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church in Saint Lucia, Rev. Seth Ampadu.
By Rev. Seth Ampadu, Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church in Saint Lucia.

“Then said Jesus unto him, put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52

The question one would ask is, is our criminal justice system failing our society? Does it offer security to our society? As we seek to explore the possibility of minimizing crime in our society, I am of the view, that the criminal justice system has a critical role to play to curb this cancerous situation in our society. I believe that the threat of stiffer punishment will stop most criminals from committing crime. Studies have shown that crime rates often drop when criminal penalties are increased.

Those who commit crimes in our society must be swiftly arrested, fairly tried, harshly punished, and held to proper restitution to deter potential offenders. People must answer for their actions. Those who hurt others must pay the price, but all our institutions also must be held accountable for how they promote or undermine greater responsibility and justice.

Severity of punishment attempts to scare potential criminals because the punishment that they could receive is not worth the risk. The idea behind severe punishments assumes that the criminal is rational enough to weigh out the consequences before committing the crime. If the criminals have a risk of harsh punishment, they will think twice about what they are doing. The normal people who are close to doing something they would regret, think twice because of the severity of punishment awaiting them. One thing that would make them even more hesitant to commit crime is if they see that other criminals are being subjected to harsher punishment. It will cause them to pause before doing anything criminal.

I believe stiffer punishment is effective in deterring criminals due to the drastic consequence of their actions. When criminals have harsh consequences, such as life imprisonment with hard labor, it will deter them from committing heinous acts. Before committing such crimes as murder, the loss of human life will matter much more if they think about the possibility of losing their freedom. I understand the contrary view where life in prison not only punishes criminals, but society as well because innocent taxpayers would be the ones who have to pay for the criminals’ lives and upkeep. The truth is that two wrongs may not be right, but in this case, both life in prison and severe punishment seems to be right.  The end result would be that harsher punishment punishes less people.

I want to believe that as a people, we can turn away from crime and violence and we can build communities of greater peace. It begins with a clear conviction: respect for life and social justice! Social justice is the starting point for confronting a culture of violence.

There should be justice in our society, in our communities, in our homes, and in our work places if we want to curb the violence in our region. As people, let us remember, humanity flourishes where there is justice. In this critical time, all of us need to lead the crusade of social justice, to bring change in our society.

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