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Dear Editor: Judicial delays, low detection rate and faulty logic; the problem with the ‘hangman cure’

“Logic, if you followed me so far, would dictate that there are two main barriers to implementing hanging: an abysmally low detection rate by any standards; and an inefficient judicial system which appears designed for lawyers to make more money by using delay tactics…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the use of hanging to stem the murder rate was submitted to Wired868 by Mohan Ramcharan of Birmingham, UK:

Photo: Fancy a trip to the gallows?
(Copyright Morningstaronline.co.uk)

Not for the first time, and likely not the last either, I take to my keyboard to ask the question, “Where did the hangman go?”

This in response to the usual call “Bring back hangman” made by writers of several letters to the editor:

  • Arnold Gopeesingh, Newsday 20 Oct 2018
  • Dr Waffie Mohammed (and other Muslim leaders), Guardian 3 October 2010
  • Father Ian Taylor, Newsday 12 June 2018
  • G A Marques, Guardian 8 October 2016
  • Jay G Rakhar, Newsday 3 May 2019

Late former Prime Minister Patrick Manning: You see, among the ignorant, there is a perception that hanging was banned in the land of ‘milk and honey’.

Plain and simple, the sentence for murder is death, still contained within section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act Chapter 11.08 1979 (as amended). Why the baying for blood is not an answer to the crime tsunami is another tale altogether.

First, the true statistics for crime detection will probably shock citizens. For murder and serious crimes, the detection rate of 20% quoted by law enforcement—appallingly low on a world stage—is entirely wrong. The USA has put it at 6%. The actual figure is 3.65%, calculated over the last 10 years.

Photo: Members of the Police Service march during the 2018 Independence Day parade in Port of Spain.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

Mind you, this is just the detection rate. The conviction rate is 1% of the detection rate, which is—for those mathematically minded—0.0365%. Startling, isn’t it?

Some years ago, when I pointed out this statistic, the police service immediately remove access by the public to its statistics page, from where I had obtained the figures I worked with for my calculation. Access has not yet been allowed to date.

Then there is the reality of the slow pace which a criminal matter winds its way through the court system, described by international criminal lawyer Ula Nathai-Lutchman, as ‘slower than molasses’. Hence, matters are not resolved within the 5-year limit set by the Pratt and Morgan judgment.

Logic, if you followed me so far, would dictate that there are two main barriers to implementing hanging: an abysmally low detection rate by any standards; and an inefficient judicial system which appears designed for lawyers to make more money by using delay tactics.

As for Jay Rakhar’s assertion: “The death penalty […] has proven time and again that it has the potential to be a deterrent, having the chilling effect that those who commit murder will be executed.”

Well, a simple Google search blows that argument clear out of the water.

Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.

About Mohan Ramcharan

Mohan Ramcharan is a law student and a student of human nature and culture, who prefers cool logic to emotional ranting. A Trinidadian living in England, he observes the world through two lenses—and strives to share both views in his writing.

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One comment

  1. Mr Ramcharan..
    The problem with your article is that it uses something called reasoning and logic, and also you want to use something called facts.
    85 percent of the human population have something called faith. They ” believe ” in something which could be described as ” jumbies “.
    With such basic programming at their core, it is impossible to expect that your reasoning will be accepted.