Amid a recent upsurge in local gun murders, a retired trade union leader says he is still not convinced that there needs to be a resumption of hangings.
“I can’t say psychologically what effect that [hangings] would have on people to prevent them from committing a crime,” said former General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Dennis Clarke as he weighed in on the worrying trend that has resulted in 20 murders so far this year, two short of the 22 for all of last year.
In addition to raising doubt that capital punishment, which was last carried out here in 1984, would act as a deterrent to murder, Clarke also contended that such serious crimes often occurred “on the spur of the moment”.
“Some people would say, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but that is the old Mosaic law,” the former veteran trade unionist said, while stressing that “sometimes you don’t go to do things”.
Since 1924, Barbados has carried out a total of 60 hangings, the most recent occurring 33 years ago.
But while many have been calling for a strong message to be sent to would-be perpetrators that “you reap what you sow” and that “if you kill a man, you should expect then to lose your life”, Clarke suggested that the authorities should start with a re-examination of the prison system and its rehabilitation programme.
“We need to see the counselling and how that would work. I know they do it [counselling], but you probably got to go deeper and [look at] how society would accept those people coming out.
“One of the problems we have with rehabilitation is that this is a small society and everybody knows everybody, and everybody is related to somebody, that’s related to somebody, that is related to the person coming out,” he said.
The former NUPW boss also supported calls for a programme targeted at the men on the block in a bid to determine their concerns.
“It is sad that we are reaching that stage where you have a few people who seem to think that crime is the answer to their survival; and they will find out . . . that the one industry that we can boast about that is really working on our behalf, which is tourism, what they are doing is going to affect tourism,” he told Barbados TODAY Wednesday afternoon.
He further cautioned that a surge in crime would affect the freedom of movement of most Barbadians.
“[Crime will impact the freedom of] people who want to go out to church at night, to go out and enjoy themselves, not only at night, but even in the day . . .. So therefore your home becomes like a jail,” the veteran trade unionist stressed.