Capital Punishment Be a Major Deterrent to Crime?
Punishment Is the Only Way to Deter Criminals
Perhaps all criminals should be required to carry cards
which read: Fragile: Handle with Care. It will never do, these days, to go
around referring to criminals as violent thugs. You must refer to them
politely as "social misfits". The professional killer who
wouldn't think'twice about using his cosh or crowbar to batter some
harmless old lady to death in order to rob her of her meagre life-savings
must never be given a dose of his own medicine.He is in need of
"hospital treatment". According to his misguided defenders,
society is to blame.
s,pciety breeds evil - or so the argument goes. When you listen to this
kind of talk, it makes you wonder why we aren't all criminals. We have
done away with the absurdly harsh laws of the nineteenth century and this
is only right. But surely enough is enough. The most senseless piece of
criminal legislation in Britain and a number of other countries has been
the suspension of capital puni'shment.
The violent criminal has become a kind of hero-figures
in our time. He is glorified on the screen; he is pursued by the press and
paid vast sums of money for his "memoirs". Newspapers which
specialise in crime-reporting enjoy enormous circulations and the
publishers of trashy cops and robbers stories or "murder
mysteries" have never had it so good. When you read about the
achievement of the great train robbers, it makes you wonder whether you
are reading about some glorious resistance movementg. The hardened
criminal is cuddled and cosseted by the sociologists on the one hand and
adored as a hero by the masses on the other, It' s no wonder he is a
privileged person who expects and receives VIP treatment wherever he goes.
Capital punishment used to be a major deterrent. It
made the violent robber think twice before pulling the trigger. It gave
the cold-blooded poisoner something to ponder about while he was shaking
up or serving his arsenic cocktail. It prevented unarmed policemen from
being mowed down while pursuing their duty by killers armed with automatic
weapons. Above all, it protected the most , vulnerable members of society,
young children, from brutal sex-maniacs. It is horrifying to think that
the criminal can literally get away with murder. We all know that
"life sentence" does not mean what it says.
years or so of "good conduct" the most desperate villain is free
to return to society where he will live very comfortably, thank you, on
the proceeds of his crime, or he will go on committing offences until he
is caught again. People are always will'sng to hold liberal views at the
expense of others. It' s aiways fashionable to pose as the defender of the
under-dog, so iong as you, personally, remain unaffected. Did the
defenders of crime, one wonders, in their desire for fair-play, consult
the victims before they suspended capital punishment? Hardly. You see,
they couldn't, because all the victims were dead.
Read the following passages. Underline the important
viewpoints while reading.
1. Can You Turn Him into a Good Guy?
"Why don't I give you a lift home if you live on
the new estate?" "I'd appreciate that very much," he
replied. I fetched my car from the parking lot and he got in with
"Many thanks. " He said no more till we were well across the
heath. Then, all of a sudderi, he turned to me and said, "Okay. Pull
up here." "Here?" I queried. There was not a house in
sight, and the weather was shocking. Anyway, I pulled up. The only thing I
could remember after that was something thumping down hard on my head. I
passed out. When I came to, I was sprawled in the ditch, soaked to the
skin, my head pounding, my car gone and my pockets empty.
I staggered off and eventually tumbled into the
police-station to make a report. There was a light shining on the station
wall and there, lit up, was a picture of my assailant. I had walked past
it for the last seven days. I knew I had seen the face before. He was
wanted by the police for armed robbery. I thanked my lucky stars it was
not for murder. I looked at the name underneath the face, the face I will
never forget. It was-er-it was-oh, bother! I can never remember names.
2. Murderers Must Be Hanged
Murderers are cruel sadistic monsters. They must be
hanged. What they do puts them beyond the pale of humanity. They are not
humans and therefore they cannot expect to be treated as humans. They must
be made to see the error of their ways, and the only way of doing that is
by hanging them.
British justice is the finest in the world,but by.not
imposing the death sentence people will think we are failing to punish
crime justly. It is the principle of justice itself that is at stake. How
can we claim to be a just nation if people who murder are not themselves
executed? An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is the very basis of
Some people claim that hanging is cruel, but it is more
humane than the other penalties at present imposed. It is quick, and
thanks to modern methods, painless. It is only th'e agitators who campaign
against the death penalty who say it is cruel. The reality is that it is a
kindness to the murderer. Far better to be hanged than to suffer the slow
torture of life imprisonment vhich is in any case a burden on the
There are other objections to life imprisonment. There
is the chance that the murderer may escape. He or she would then be free
to murder again. Nor is life imprisonment what it says. It is. only a
nominal sentence. In no time at all the murderer will be released. How can
the ordinary person feel safe knowing that there are murderers on the
prowl seeking their next victim?
The crux of the matter is that only hanging acts as a
deterrent to murderers. In the past, many a would-be murderer must have
refrained from committing this heinous crime knowing that such an act
would result in certain execution. Put yourself in his or her shoes. You
would not commit murder knowing .that the penalty for so doing was death.
It is the same with murderers.
So-called liberals point to the experience of other
European countries where the death penalty has ceased to exist. But what
happens in those countries is no guide to what may happen here. It is our
safety that is at risk, not theirs. Only the return of the death penalty
can ensure that we can sleep safely in our beds.
3. Mediation System Helps Deter Crimes
Ye Chengmei of Guojiahe Town, Xinzheng County in
central China's Henan Province, was beaten by her husband Pan Chenggong
over a trifling matter.
Ye's brother mobilized 14 young men with wooden sticks
and spades to teach his brother-in-law a lesson. Hearing the news, Pan
Chenggong organized more than 20 young men to fight back.
At this critical moment, 59-year-old Ye Bingyan, a
mediator, appeared and persuaded the men to stop the fight and sit down to
talk. Under he mediator's persuasion and his discussion of the law, Pan
admitted his wrongdoings and went to the home of his wife's parents to
make an apology.
This is one example of China's people's mediation
system which has become a major method of settling civil disputes
concerning marriage, family relations, housing, money and property issues.
China now has more than 1 million mediation committees
with over 6 million mediators. From 1982 to 1988, they settled 50 million
civil issues, up to 10 times the number of cases went to court.
In Henan Province alone, more than 287, 000 mediators
from 53,642 people's mediation committees have dealt with 5,723,657 cases,
preventing losses for 51,343 people.
The mediators enjoy popular support and respect as they
report fhe views, complaints and wishes of the populace to grassroots
governments and pass alpng the goveinment principles, poIicies, laws and
regulations to the masses.
The villagers speak highly of Ye Bingyan's work. They
say wherever and whenever disputes happen, Ye will be there. He has
prevented 15 gang fights, saved the lives of 14 people threatened with
homicide or suicide and also helped five couples reunite.
Ye said the key to his work is concern and love for
4. Why Was She Set Free?
An armed robber walked free from the Old Bailey after a
kind-hearted judge heard how a nightmare attack she endured in London had
turned her to crime.
Rachet Farrington, of Maypole Road, Sheepbridge,
Huddersfield, was only 16 when she left Yorkshire and went to London with
A year later she was threatening to shoot a gang of
drug dealers while her accomplice, a hardened criminal, tied them up.
The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to robbery, having an
imitation firearm and aggravated burglary on July 5, 1986, but thejudge
deferred sentencing for six months and told her to go home.
"I had intended to impose a sentenee of two years
in prison," said Recorder James Crespi, QC. "Your co-defendant
was lucky to get only six years.
"But I am reluctant to send you to prison. You
were extremely young. You came to London and got involved with drug
dealers. Go back to Yorkshire. Try to get a job and lead a sensible
The judge was told that Rachel found herself involved
in London's drugs underworld soon after she arrived.
She met "a man involved with drugs " who
became her new boyfriend, said her defence counsel, Mr.Stephen Leslie.
Within a month the relationship had turned ugly and she
finally left after a horrifying attack.
"She bore a grudge, but because of things that had
happened earlier she did not report it to police," said Mr. Leslie.
Rachel found a new friend, Garnet Gibson, who proved
equally dangerous. He was ten years older than her and had been in prison
When she told him what she had endured in the attack by
her exboyfriend and his associates, Gibson told she could get her revenge
and Rachel agreed.
"Except for the grudge this was completely out of
character and she was completely out of her depth," said Mr.Leslie.
The coupie burst into a flat in North London, where
Gibson, armed with an air-pistol, ordered Rachel to tie up the three men
But the inexperienced girl did such a poor job of it
that Gibson handed her the gun while he tied up the men.
The victims soon realized Rachel was helpless despite
her threats to shoot them and they fought back.
She was biushed aside by one man and finally she just
walked out of the flat and threw the gun away.
Gibson was soon overpowered by the men and police were
Rachel admitted everything to police and was bailed,
but she fled to Portugal and did not return until a month after Gibson's
trial. He was jailed for six years in July last year.
Rachel was rearrested as she entered Britain. Her
mother had sent her the fare home so that she could return for medical
treatmeot for a cyst.
The court heard that Rachel was one of nine children
and was from an "excellent" family.
Her mother, Mrs. Mary Farrington, told the judge that
her daughter had got out of hand after her father died of cancer and
Rachel lost her job through illness.
She said: "I have a home for her and the family is
willing to help her in any way we can."
5. Police Are Pals to Convicts
It doesn't look like a jail at first sight. Situated in
Jixi County in remote
northeastern Jilin Province, this prison has neither high walls nor
electrified barbed wire to prevent prisoners from escaping.
A small wooden fence around the compound looks like
those around farmers' fields. Only the wofd "Cordon" printed on
the planks suggest something unusual about the place.
Since 1986 none of the several hundred male prisoners
jailed here has tried to escape. And those who have finished their
sentences seldom return to crime. The recidivism rate in only 0.5 per
cent, much lower than the 3 per cent common in other Chinese prisons.
Perhaps even more amazing is 80 per cent of the
released inmates have become friends of their guards.
Some ex-convicts have travelled many miles back to the
prison to see Wang Hongwu, the head of the security police.
One sent a bull of fine breed when he heard that a bull
was badly needed in the prison.
It was quite a different story when the prison was
first set up years ago. The prisoners toed the line during the day but
were hellions at night, stealing chickens from the farmers' cottages and
causing all sorts of mischief .These acts precipitated many letters of
complaint to the authorities from residents who had become vicitms.
Then Wang stepped in. That was in 1984.
To the prisoners' surprise, the 40-year-old security
veteran used talk rather than punishment to restore discipline.
Wang finaliy got to know most of the prisoners and
their concerns. Many were afraid that their spouses would divorce them and
their children would be left homeless. Many worried about their work and
life after being released.
Wang set out policies to reform his prisoners. He
developed educa tion programmes tailor-made to each prisoner's specific
case and family background. The prisoners were moved by his sincerity.
A larcener was frightened when his wife asked for a
divorce the first time she came to see him.
"This is the last time we see each other, ?the
wife said. "I sent the divorce papers to the court yesterday. I will
return with our son to my hometown in Shandong Province tomorrow."
Angry and disappointed, the larcener pretended to be
indiffeient and said he agreed and that it didn't matter to him what she
"I will find a better girl if I'm released,"
he told his sobbing wife.
When she left he burst into tears. Wang came to his
cell and asked why he cried since he had agreed to the divorce. The
larcener confessed he could not live without his wife; he simply did not
want to lose face before the other prisoners.
Later on, Wang got to know that the couple loved each
other deeply. The wife wanted a divorce because she felt embarrassed when
she met his friends and was looked down upon by her mother-in-law since he
was put in jail.
Wang believed the man's reform would he harder to
achieve if some solution to this dilemma wasn't found. He wrote to the
larcener's brother-in-law, his wife's brother who was a middle-school
teacher in Shandong Province, urging him to persuade his sister to change
Ten days later, Wang received a letter from Wang's
brother-in-law, saying that he would try to persuade his sister into
taking back the divorce papers and waiting for her husband.
Half a month later, the wife came with her son to the
prison to see her busband and express her gratitude to Wang Hongwu.
The larcenef pledged to reform and Wang said he would
try to get him as early a release as possible.
6. Second Chance : a Love Story
Chen Surong and Zeng Xiangjie are factory workers in
Shuicheng City, Guizhou Province. They seem like any other young Chinese
couple: they have a two-year-old daughter, live in a two-room apartment
and lead a quiet and uneventful life.
It wasn't always this way.
Chen Surong was a worker at a plastics factory in
Yunnan Province when she met Zeng Xiangjie, who worked at a Guizhou cement
factory, on a train in 1975. They fell in love at first sight.
After two years of correspondence and occasional
visits, the two decided
to get married.
All the arrangements were made and just before Spring
Festival in 1977, Chen waited for her fiance to come to Yunnan for the
wedding. He never showed up, nor was there a letter of explanation.
Ten days latcr, Chen decided she must go to Guizhou and
find out what had happened.
It was snowing heavily when she arrived at the Guizhou train
station and the roads were slushy as she trudged off to the cement #actory.
She found Zeng's dormitory and rapped on the door of his
room. "Xiangjie, Xiangjie..." she called out, but there was no
answer. Finally, she found a key and uniocked the door: the room was
empty, messy and there was no quilt on his bed.
Confused, Chen stopped some passersby and asked them abont Zeng. They had
never heard of him, they told her. At last, she found an old worker, who
said: "You'd better go to the factory security department."
The young woman ran to the security department of the
factory, and was told that Zeng had been detained because "he had
been stealing factory property."
Chen couldn't believe her ears. But then she saw for
herself. in the small detention room, Zeng Xiangjie squatted behind a
locked door, and she knew it was true.
"Xiangjie, what's the matter with you?" she
He did not raise his eyes. He covered his face with his
hands and wept.
"Come on, what did you do?" Chen insisted.
"I'm sorry... I deceived you. .. I am a guilty
man, I'm ruined..." Zeng numbled as tears roiled down lais cheeks.
Before she realized it, Chen was aiready out on the
street, running madly for the railway station.
For quite a while afterwards, she could not steep or
eat. When she saw a letter from Zeng, she thcew it away, and then she
burst into tears.
It seemed to be an endless ordeal. But as she calmed
down, Chen found she could not forget Zeng, or at deast the man she knew.
Hadn't he been so kind and helpful at Guiyang train station? When he came
to visit her, didn' t he always bring whatever she needed? Hadn't he
seemed so smart and so considerate?
Finally, Chen felt she must not lose Zeng but help him
make a new beginning instead of severing the tie between them completely.
She retrieved the letter she had thrown away. It was a
short letter: "Surong, I'm sorry,for I have deceived you. Can you
forgive me? I will start anew and be an honest man. You take my word for
The next day, Chen was back at the cement factory. She
met Xiangjie and told him, "A young man should follow the right road,
otherwise, he will never find true love."
Zeng was released, but he was obsessed and worried that
Chen might leave him at any time, or that he might be sent back to the
public security bureau again. He could not concentrate on his work and as
a result, broke three of his ribs in an accident.
His factory leaders were very concerned about Zeng's
injury, and often went to the hospital to see him. They also sent four
young workers to attend to him in turn. During the time he was in the
hospital, Chen was at his bedside holding his hand.
Zeng was moved to teais. "I thought I was
ruined," he said, "but now with your help and concern, I am
confident that I can be an honest and good man again. When I recover, I'll
work very hard to repay your kindness."
Soon afterwards, Zeng recovered fully and as he had
promised, came out of the hospital a different man. He was always the
first to start work in his workshop and the last to leave. For two years,
he never asked for leave and was awarded the title of an "advanced
In 1981, Zeng and Chen were finally married. Zeng's
factory gave the newlyweds a two-room apartment, and Chen managed to
transfer to her husband's factory.