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Study: Most of T&T go for the death penalty (with CNC3 video)
The findings of a 2011 study by Roger Hood, professor emeritus of criminology at Oxford University, and Dr Florence Seemungal, visiting scholar, shows that 89 per cent of the population of T&T support the death penalty. But they do not agree all murderers should be executed regardless of the circumstances and nature of the murder. They feel a discretionary system should be used by the judge in sentencing.
The report was submitted to the Death Penalty Project of the University of the West Indies’ Law Faculty and given to the media at a debate on death penalty at UWI yesterday. According to the study, only 11 per cent of the people interviewed favoured the immediate abolition of the death penalty. However, only 26 per cent who wanted the death penalty were in favour of the current law, which makes the death penalty mandatory for all murders, whatever the circumstances.
Overall, a large majority favoured a discretionary death penalty, that is, one imposed by a judge after considering the individual circumstances of the offence and the offender, the report said. The interviewees recognised not all who commit murder deserve to die or either wanted to reserve it for the most gruesome murders, the report added.
It said what was surprising was 36 percent of those who supported the mandatory death penalty and 54 percent of those in favour of a discretionary system felt more executions of murderers were the least likely policy to reduce violent crimes that led to death. The researchers concluded that the findings of the survey, taken in conjunction with two previous studies, strongly supported the abolition of the mandatory death penalty and its replacement by a discretionary system.
Professor Arif Bulkan of the Law Faculty, a member of the Rights Advocacy Project, was a presenter at yesterday’s debate. He said three-quarters of those interviewed did not support the mandatory death penalty after it was explained to them. Recalling the findings of the 2006 and 2009 studies, he said there was an analysis of murders over a five-year period from 2002.
The studies revealed if you killed someone in T&T, the likelihood of being executed was under five per cent, Bulkan said. He said gang-related killings and murders committed in the course of another crime rose substantially from 40 per cent to 63.7 per cent.
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