Sr. Inigo Joachim who preached 0ur annual retreat in 2010 is currently living in New Delhi with her 3 sisters bringing the Word of God and ministering Christ to the prisoners of Tihar Jail, the biggest jail in Asia. She says “No” to death penalty.
“I have come to give life and life in abundance” (Jn: 10:10). As true followers of the founder of our religion, we Christians believe in giving life and not destroying or taking away someone’s life.
In the wake of a court stay on the execution of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and the ongoing debate over the gains from capital punishment, many have demanded that death sentence should be abolished.
The provision of death penalty was introduced by the British in the Indian Penal Code in 1860 but the same has been abolished by them from their own statute books – being incompatible with the values of a civilized society and as done by a large number of countries. Well over half the countries in the world have either abolished the death penalty or stopped using it in practice. In a few countries where it has been abolished, it has been replaced by life imprisonment – which is worse than the death penalty itself. It is better to die in a single moment than to go on dying slowly for 15 or 20 years. India doesn’t rank among those which have scrapped the death penalty, but the Dhananjoy Chatterjee sentence has sparked a debate on capital punishment.
Arguing against capital punishment, Amnesty International believes that “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the pre-meditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life…It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or for cruel treatment.”
The simple logic is that if I cannot give life to someone as a reward, then I cannot give death as a penalty. If killing is wrong and murdering someone is a crime, then whether it is committed by the accused or by the court makes no difference. When we pass death sentence on someone, we are taking revenge because she / he failed to follow the rules of the country and the country is ready to kill that person. But we failed to understand that when somebody kills, it is clear sign that the murderer is mentally and psychologically sick. Rather than punishing the person with death penalty, she / he should be sent not even to the prison but to a psychological centre or a mental clinic where the person will be treated for this sickness. He / she needs treatment and counseling; needs help for self-realization and transformation. The person also need spiritual help like Vipassana and meditation skills to accept the harm done to the society or to an innocent person so that he / she will not repeat the same.
Everyday Newspapers bring the crimes of murder, stealing, raping, kidnapping, smuggling etc. We are also aware of the fact they are caught by the Police and imprisoned in the jails. But crimes have not decreased. In Tihar Jail alone the number of inmates has increased in the last few years from 5000 to 13,000 and the number of jails also have gone up to 10. The crimes and criminal are on the increase with all the punishments and court verdicts.
It is true he /she murdered someone guilty or innocent. But by killing this person, the other one is not going to get back life. If that happens, then we all can support this idea of death penalty. But it never happens. We are following the age-old and out-dated method of eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. We need to re-think of new ways of re-forming and transforming them.