Legal Wrangling : March Pen massacre raises question of the death penalty

October 14, 2016
This man tries to confort Jennifer McDonald, who lost members of her family in the deadly March Pen shootings on Sunday.

A man was moved to tears when he heard that three children were among the five persons who were killed on March Pen Road, Spanish Town, St Catherine, last Sunday.

The man queried how persons could be so heartless as to hurt or kill children.

"I am not condoning the killing of adults, but my heart bleeds when I hear of children being missing or killed," he said.

"I am a father who is still grieving for my 10-year-old daughter who was murdered 10 years ago. The murderer has not been caught. My little girl was coming home from school when she was sexually assaulted and killed.

"Every day I wake up, I feel a lump in my throat. Sometimes I feel that I cannot breathe, so when I see those mothers and grandmothers crying for their children who were shot and burnt to death in that fire last week, I feel the same pain they feel.

"It is not an easy thing to lose a child to rapists, murderers, arsonists, or through sickness. I think it is a little easier to cope if your child gets sick and dies, but when they are murdered at the hands of evil people, it is very hard to deal with.

"I hear some people saying that the Government has no right to hang anybody for murder. Last week I was very upset when I heard one of my friends expressing the view that no one has the right to take the life of a person who has committed murder.




"I had to tell him that the same way murderers can snuff out people's lives, it is the same way they, too, should lose their lives. The murder rate will always go up because gunmen know that if they kill people, they are not going to be hanged.

"My friends and relatives all know my views on murderers. You take a life, then your life must be taken. I tell my friends that the day the Government wants someone to hang murderers, I am willing and ready to do the job for free.

"Some of my friends say I must learn to be forgiving. I am a very forgiving person, but I really do not have any pity or sympathy for those who go around killing innocent and helpless people.

"I am sure many other Jamaicans share my view that murderers should be hanged. Some of those who say they should not be hanged do not understand how many people are suffering from both financial hardship and emotional distress because their loved ones were murdered," he said.


The death penalty has not been abolished in Jamaica, but no hanging has taken place since 1988. It is not likely that hanging will resume in Jamaica based on recent rulings by the United Kingdom Privy Council, Jamaica's final appellate court. The UK Privy Council has ruled that the death penalty should be imposed only in cases which, on the facts of the offence, are the most extreme and exceptional - "the worse of the worst or the rarest of the rare."

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