The death penalty - a slightly different angle

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by komuso, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. komuso

    komuso Valued Member

    Hi all,

    I recently read a rather banal looking, but totally chilling bit of testimony from the South African Truth and Reconcilliation Comission by a prison warder who had worked at the central maximum security jail in Johannesburg.

    He was a part of the team that implemented capital punishment by hanging during the apartheid years. From all accounts, they didn't hold back, hanging substantial numbers of people every month, in batches of as many as seven simultaneously in a purpose designed facility.

    I am not going to put a link on here. It was quite seriously one of the most truly terrible things I have ever read, and Im not sure that it sits within the TOS. If you want to search it out I have given more than enough clues for a mildly dedicated hunter, if you run into problems drop me a PM.

    Over and above the horror of what happened to the condemmed folks, what I was left with was the damage that the whole process inflicted on the people that had to implement it. The guy concerned was clearly traumatised in a major way, as you would quite probably expect.

    So, to finally arrive at my point... Is this the real reason that the death penalty needs to be considered carefully? Not so much for the sake of the people who are condemmed, but for the sake of the people who have to carry out the sentence. The way I see it either you deliberately select people who will have no emotional reaction to their role, which in itself is very troubling, or you acknowledge that you are probably damaging people who have volunteered to perform a role on behalf of society.

  2. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    It wouldn't be all that hard to automate a system where the action was carried out over a wider base of people thereby spreading the trauma so thin as to be non existent. Which is in itself a bit creepy.

    If someone has stepped up for that job then well what can you say? Not much. Of their own volition they've made the choice. So to an extent the whole 'it comes with the territory' maxim applies I'd think.

    On the bigger issue... prison is never about reform. So the idea that guys can do time and come out reformed is silly. Further to that is the issue of the cost of keeping people on death row and the long appeal processes. The system is broken no doubt. But I'm not sure anyone has managed to implement a better system. There will probably always be the battle between the privatized prison industry and the state run prison industry. Not sure that will ever find a decent balance.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  3. komuso

    komuso Valued Member

    I hear you Slip,

    but the impression I got from reading the report, and a few others like it, is that people don't so much 'step up' for the job as drift into it, if that makes sense. And like a lot of things, the fact that you volunteer isn't the same as knowing what you are volunteering for.

  4. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Yes there could be that drift effect. Though I'm finding it pretty hard to give much sympathy for the guy who worked as the executioner under the apartheid system frankly. That's a whole other issue really though I guess.
  5. komuso

    komuso Valued Member

    For what it is worth when I started reading it was the same for me, but by the end I was feeling a lot more ambiguous about him as a person.

    I guess having been in the military, I can see how a combination of youth, a tendancy to follow, and then peer group pressure could end up seeing otherwise fairly average people do very terrible things. The way the system operated kind of diffused the responsibility a bit as well. Technically he was an assisstant not the guy that actually pulled the big lever.


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