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« Privy Council Rules on Bahamas Death Penalty Issues | Main | The Great Bahamian Land Rush »

March 15, 2006

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bahamianworldcitizen

I really enjoyed reading Larry Smith’s and Sir Arthur Foulkes’ blogs on the death penalty issue. Morally I agree with the death penalty for certain crimes, but in reality I have more sympathy for the abolitionists’ point of view about our flawed judicial system and about needing to bring the Bahamas inline with human rights and international norms on this issue.

I don't agree with the Privy Council ruling. It was not based on 'bringing the Bahamas into line with evolving international standards' as was quoted on the Amnesty website. The ruling was based on an opinion that the mandatory death penalty was always unconstitutional based on established principles prior to the 1973 constitution. So now the Privy Council is also has a psychic judicial committee. Interesting…

I wonder what is worse a psychic judicial committee or a ‘myopic, insular, nationalistic and cannibalistic’ judiciary as described by Mr. Fred Smith. I have a little bit more confidence in our Caribbean judges and our Commonwealth judges brought from a far. If anything, they are impeded only by a lack of a central judicial complex, central databases and other funding issues, which perhaps the new Attorney General would wish to address, eh hem.

I really think its time for the Bahamas (and Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines—I can’t say for the Cook Islands and Tuvalu) to reconsider our relationship with the Privy Council. I'm probably in the minority on this one. I wonder if the President of the Privy Council, the Rt Hon Baroness Valerie Amos of Brondesbury, who hails from Guyana, would like to give us her perspective on her country's legal development according to progressive development of international legal norms. By the way the Guyanese Constitution of 1980 with 1996 reforms is a good read if you’re bored this weekend.

drew Roberts

[Until the late 19th century, the “long drop” (as it was known) was still the penalty for hundreds of crimes - including shoplifting, poaching and “being in the company of gypsies”.]

[Ever since the 7th century BC, when Greece’s Draconian legal code made death the only penalty for every crime]

Just thought I would post some interesting links in respect of laws that were too harsh for the crime and the benefits of trial by jury when such laws exist.

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

http://www.friesian.com/nullif.htm

http://www.fija.org/

http://www.greenmac.com/eagle/ISSUES/ISSUE23-9/07JuryNullification.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=jury+nullification&btnG=Google+Search

----

Now as to the recent ruling:

I see at least two remedies for the Bahamian people if they are displeased with this result.

1. Change the constitution to make it specifically legal.

2. Change the constitution to take the Privy Council out of the picture.

Does anyone see any others.

Now, this is not meant to be a call for such. I am unfortunately not well enough informed on the specifics to have a well formed opinion on the matter in particular.

One problem I have with this is that our Bahamian laws are copyrighted. I think this is crazy. The Bahamian people should have the right to make whatever copies of their laws as they see fit and to traffic in those laws amongst each other and anyone else.

I would like to point out that, as I understand things, the US law will not recognize copyright claims on any countries laws including ours. (Does anyone with more information on this have any comments? Please?)

all the best,

drew

(+1)/10 to send email

larry smith

Please contact me directly by email. i would like to consult with you on the refugee issue.

larry smith

Thanks for the links Drew.

As for copyright, when my company reprinted the Bahamas Independence Order (or consttitution) a couple of years ago we got permission from Her Majesty's Stationery Office in London because it was an act of the British parliament. However, the permission was just a routine clerical requirement. *I would imagine its the same here but will look in to it.

drew Roberts

Thanks for the response Larry.

If it is indeed just a routine clerical requirement, what is the real purpose? Can permission be denied? under what conditions?

It just seems odd that we still maintain ignorance of the law is no excuse and then turn around an copyright the laws so that making copies is an offence.

Something is not right with that picture from where I sit.

all the best,

drew

(+1)/10 to send email

anon

I think the death penalty is barbaric, and if it does do anything, state-sponsored killing reinforces the point that killing the person who wronged you is the right thing to do.

If you compare the years of hangings with the years of murders you will find that, generally,when the hangings start,the numbers of murders also begin to climb.

I want to take issue with your stated view of a connection between the Caribbean Court of Justice, and the death penalty.The decision to
establish the CCJ was taken in 1992, two years before the Privy Council decided Pratt and Morgan.The decision to establish the court had more to do with the concept of soverignty than any other idea.

It was argued that Caribbean countries would not really be soverign as long as the final decisions were made by their former colonial masters.This, and the need to have a court of original jurisdiction for the CSME, led to the decision to establish the court.

You quite rightly pointed out that the latest PC decision,was an affirmation of a decision by the East Caribbean Court of Appeal,a court made up entirely of West Indian Judges.This fact alone should dispell the notion that a West Indian court would automatically be a 'hanging court'. Since the CCJ has at least one Dutch judge and one English judge, it would be foolhardy to assume that it would naturally be a hanging court.

Sandra Baggott

I would like a list of names with residence address of all the men who were hung in the Bahamas from 1972 thru 1976. Is this possible? from what I understand there weren't that many. I'm trying to do an investigation that may lead to a book or movie about my escape from this real serial killer that was hung some where in the Bahamas / Caribbean Islands after killing his 27th victem according to an old newspaper article I no longer have. I would appreciate any information you can offer. I have included the events of my story below if you care to read it. Thank you

I am looking for the
Diary Of A Serial Killer
A black man who resided in Milwaukee’s downtown Wisconsin Ave. Marquette area back in 1972 /1974.
He was around 6 feet tall, good looking, around 30 years old and wore dark sunglasses.
He killed 27 women throughout the United States.
He was hung in the Bahamas around 1973 / 1974 after killing his 27th victim.
I was listed in his diary as the only girl who got away according to Milwaukee Journal 1973 / 1974 but no body knows that was me because the killer didn’t know my name.
This week I will try and locate any police report that was created from me which will be like looking for a needle in a hay stack and I will also try and find the news paper report from archive micro film.
I also have a lead on locating the Jr. High school teacher who took me to a safe place to phone the police after the ordeal.
At the time my name was Sandra Heinrich.

THIS IS THE WHOLE TRUTH
Back in 1973 / 1974 I was a victim of a black male serial killer who lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Wisconsin Ave.
This killer I don't remember his name, kept a diary of all his 27 killings and also listed me not by name but as being the only girl that got away. Sometime within 1973 and 1974 a newspaper article was in our Milwaukee Journal and stated that this killer was hung in the Bahamas. It stated his address somewhere on Wisconsin Avenue where he in fact took me at gunpoint and made me get in his car. I had been to an art/craft festival at the Milwaukee Arena shortly before, but I lost my friends. There were no cell phones in those days. I decided to walk to my place of employment Marcs Big Boy on 5th and Wisconsin to pick up my check. I cashed my check at the bar next door to get money for the bus. The black man was at the bar and followed me to the corner where I stood waiting for the buss. It was about 6:30 P.M. and still light outside. He was whistling as he approached me. He was a good looking man about 6ft tall wearing very dark sun glasses. Then from under his long black coat he pulled out a cut off shotgun. He made sure I saw it!
He gave the orders and I listened. He took me into a Marquette College area between two cement walls and demanded my money. I said I don't have any money I opened up my purse and pulled everything out. He then grabbed my purse and looked through its single pocket. I repeated “see I don't have any money now will you let me go?” I told him I am just a kid and I’m really very poor. I sewed this mink collar on my jacket from an old outfit my mom was going to throw away. He then took my purse and shook it upside down and the $70.00 I hid under the bottom flap flew out because he knew he had just seen me stick it in my purse at the bar. He then made me cross the street and start walking east about a block or two. I was trying to calmly incorporate God into my one sided conversation which he kept telling me to shut up or I’m dead. I was hoping to soften his heart. I watched many cars and even cop cars pass by, but he said if I scream he’ll put a bullet in me. If he goes down, I go down too. I was only 17 but he seemed to be around 28 or 35. We walked to the back of a duplex where his car was parked. He made me get in then he drove me to a very dark side of a park off Prospect Ave., then he made me get out. There was another car parked beside us with a white man holding a newspaper in front of his face. I thought it vary strange because you couldn't read in the dark! The black man made me walk down a path with bushes on both sides. I was wearing a dark brown midi suede jacket. I was pretty with long blond hair. I told the black man calmly I knew the policeman who patrolled this area. He was a Texan and he and my girlfriend date each other TRUE STORY and he definitely is on foot patrolling around here right now. The black man started to look around while raising his voice that I must be kidding!
His voice would drown out my next move… I quickly pulled my brown coat slightly over my head and ducked down under a bush. It was so dark I knew I’d blend in. I was only 110 lbs. The black man couldn't see me at all and kept shouting where did I go and that he'd give me to the count of three and I better come out or he would find me and kill me. I must have freaked him out because he said in a frustrated voice, "what are you some kind of Angle or something" "just disappear like that'?”Shit!" I remember holding my breath and breathing slightly through my mouth so the hairs in my nostrils wouldn't give me away! I didn't dare budge a leaf. I couldn’t tell if the black man went back to his car but shortly after the white guy came out quietly and started to look for me. He didn't call for me he just stood quietly over me looking around. I was right beneath his feet and I could see that he had black leather boots and black pants and a long chain dangling. He wasn't even going potty. He just quietly looked around. He probably thought that I was going to run to him and ask for his help. I was much smarter than that. I know he was the clean up guy! I couldn't tell if the white guy walked back to his car or where the black guy went all I knew is that I was not going to leave my safe hiding spot until the sun came up. It was around 4:30 or 4:45 am and I could see the sky lighting up. I made a fast dash across the park and crossed the street where a man and woman had just come out of there apartment. I recognized the man as being a school teacher from my Jr. High school as if God was helping me feel safe again. They drove me to a nearby cafe where we called the police and my parents came and picked me up at the station. The officer taking my report refused to believe my story because serial killers especially a black and white team just couldn't exist in his mind. He even tried to convince my parents that I was just a young girl partying out all night.
About 7 months after the incident my mom spotted an article in the newspaper about a black serial killer man from Milwaukee who was just hung in the Bahamas for the murder of 27 women Nation wide. I was listed in his diary by discription as being the only girl that got away. You think that stupid cop who didn't believe me would have put the two and two together and try and contact me for identification. He probably threw out the report the moment we left the police station. My parents were just happy that I was alive and we really never thought to go back to the police station with the newspaper article. We ended up throwing it away. I'd like to read that diary and learn about the women he killed and how he killed them. I’d like to locate that newspaper article with his face and address.
I have friends at work who would like to see a movie made on this and a coworker at work who has her own books published has offered to help. Milwaukee would certainly take an interest in hearing about this man and I'm the only living witness with his attempt to kill failed. I can only accomplish this if I can get a hold of the proper information.
Will you please contact me and let me know if there are available records somewhere in the Bahamas on the hanging that occurred in the mid 1970's. I noticed that there were only 16 hangings in the Bahamas from 1972 to 2007. I'm glad he was hung and not returned to the U.S. jail system sucking up our tax paying benefit dollars!
Please contact me with any information you may supply. Sandra Baggott, 4818 Shirley Ave., Racine, Wisconsin 53406. 262-619-4144 or [email protected] CST. Please send a return email as soon as you read this. I look forward to your response. Thank you very much.

Allan R. Lee

A person who believes the Bible can accept without reservation the principle concerning deterrence as given by God in Eccl. 8:11, quote: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” Paraphrased, this divine principle states that ‘men will actually be encouraged to do evil if justice is not speedily executed against those who do commit evil.” The deterrence is in the speed and consistency of the punishment being executed. Remove these elements and the sentence, no matter how severe, lessens it power to deter.

However, let’s carefully THINK about the proposition that capital punishment is not a deterrence to murder. This argument is based upon several false assumptions. First, it is assumed that deterrence is the purpose for capital punishment. We have already shown from Scripture [in a previous posting] that, theologically speaking, this is in fact not the case at all. Capital punishment is advocated in Scripture because of the fact that man is made in the image of God, and that for someone to take a person’s life without the sanction of God is to perform an act of personal violence against God Himself. This is also why the state cannot be justly charged with murder when it executes a justly condemned murderer. The state is authorized by God to do so.

By the way: One of the arguments Amnesty Intl. and others who oppose Capital Punishment Per se, is that for Government or society to execute a murderer made Gov. & society no better than the murderer.

That sounds like quite a high moral position doesn’t it? However, like most of such arguments, it is quite illogical and even hypocritical. Because they go on to say that in lieu on death, as called by for the law, they say that life imprisonment would be an appropriate penalty for murder. Isn’t that amazing! How can it be that it’s ok for Gov. to lock somebody up for the rest of their life against their will without being called a kidnapper, which is against the law, but if a murderer is hanged for murder, which is in keeping with the law, that Gov. is called a murderer for doing so? That position is not only illogical, it’s hypocritical.

I’m sure that Amnesty Intl. and others who take this position against capital punishment would agree that beatings or torture are also unacceptable forms of punishment. Well, how about a monetary fine? Would that be an appropriate and just punishment? Not according toe their logic, because, for society to take money away from someone against his or her will, without even giving them any tangible goods in return, would be for them to be committing robbery.

My friends, it is clear, if we consistently and logically follow the supposed moral stance that Amnesty Intl. has so helpfully laid out for us, we must conclude that it is immoral for society to impose any punishment on a criminal at all – lest we also become criminals for doing so!

It is further suggested that capital punishment brutalizes society, and probably leads to even more murders. The amazing concept being fostered therefore, with this no punishment position, is that, if followed – and please forgive the irony - it logically follows that there would be less crime. In other words, once criminals realized that no matter what they did, no one would lift a finger to stop them, why, they'd just be so overcome with the general wonderfulness of their neighbors that they would naturally be inclined to become upstanding, productive citizens.

However, just from a logical, “natural law” perspective, doesn’t it seem more just and more logical that when one person violates another's rights, he forfeits some of his own rights. If you steal from your neighbor, it is justice that some of your property should be taken away from you as punishment and deterrent. If you kidnap your neighbor, it is just for you to lose some of your own freedom. And if you kill your neighbor, it is just for you to lose your life. This appears to be the Biblical position as well.

But, let’s get back to our discussion concerning deterrence, a second point is to be made, and that is that, dismissing capital punishment on the basis of a failure to deter all murders, would remove all basis for any kind of crime if the is logically and consistently applied throughout the judicial system. It would logically require us to eliminate all prisons simply because of the fact that they do not seem to be any more effective in the deterrence of crime in general that capital punishment is to murder in particular. We simply keep building more and more and larger and larger prisons. If the deterrent principle is valid, we should be closing them down instead.

By way of illustration, if the deterrent argument is valid, then we void the age long use of lighthouses and we should immediately remove all the lighthouses we have erected on the treacherous shoals, reefs and rocks throughout our islands. Why? Simply because of the pragmatic, obvious fact that there are no ships piled up on them! This is exactly what is being fallaciously presented as a viable argument by opponents of capital punishment. They base their conclusion upon the number of “wrecks” piled up in the prisons rather than upon the number of those who heeded the warning of the lighthouse of capital punishment and never ended up in jail because they did not commit a murder!

The poet Hyman Barshay puts it this way: “The death penalty is a warning, just like a lighthouse throwing its beams out to sea. We hear about shipwrecks, but we do not hear about the ships the lighthouse guides safely on their way. We do not have proof of the number of ships it saves, but we do not tear the lighthouse down."

Logically, if capital punishment is even a potential deterrent, then that is a significant enough social reason to implement it, not to do so is to give the preference and advantage to the murderer, rather than the victim.

Selah!

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