Recently, the Supreme Court of India dismissed Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) plea that the life imprisonment awarded to Dara Singh for leading a mob that burned alive Australian Christian missionary Dr Graham Staines (58) and his two sons — Philip (10) and Timothy (6) — on January 22, 1999 by the Orissa high court be turned over and sentence Dara Singh to death. The nature of the crime was so heinous that it prompted the-then President of India, KR Narayanan, to issue a press release condemning it as a crime that belonged to the “world’s inventory of black deeds”. The Supreme Court gave its reasons and then changed it again (apparently after taking into concern the “pain” the Christian community felt).
Many TV debates followed involving representatives from the Christian community who just could not accept the pro-life verdict. This is despite Graham Staines’s wife and the mother of his two murdered children Gladys Staines forgave Dara Singh and the other killers.
There was a lot of buzz in the twitterati too, some in favour of the verdict and others against. Two of those who were against the verdict and with whom I engaged into conversations on the subject were Harini Calamur and Aashish Laghate, both of whom I consider as my friends. And, those two conversations actually prompted me to write this post after such a long interval. So, thanks to both of them.
I have always been anti-death penalty since I started understanding issues regarding crime and punishment from a young age. Apart from the immorality of death penalty, the questions that seek answers are:
- a) What justifies the quantum of punishment?
- b) Is the punishment an effective deterrent to the members of the society to commit a similar crime?
- c) What should be the idea behind punishing a criminal?
- d) Is the law fair to all?
In the medieval times, petty crimes such as stealing could have meant execution of the criminal. Today, in some societies, a convicted thief’s hands are amputated. While a blasphemer awaits the hangman’s noose in Pakistan, blasphemy is a non-issue in an overwhelming number of countries in the world.
A Taliban follower would be able to endlessly justify death to a blasphemer or amputation of a thief’s hand. Would the educated and modern in India able to condone such punishment for a blasphemer or a thief or stoning to death of an adulteress? I don’t, and believe the educated and modern members of the society would not either.
This brings to my argument that by the same yardstick, say, a Dutch or a Swede would find those members of the Indian intelligentsia akin to the Taliban as they find them. What is not even worth a court case for some is a death sentence elsewhere. Therefore, the question is what justifies the quantum of punishment? For me, it boils down to one’s personal level of sadism.
Does that mean that the concept of crime and punishment be done away with? The answer is NO. Punishment serves two purposes — deterrent and reform. No freedom-loving individual would like to be in jail. The fear of having to serve a prison term is enough for an overwhelming majority of the population to stay as approximately close to the right side of law as possible. Repeated offenders get longer sentences. The idea behind jailing is to reform. Then, what about those who are beyond reforms? The answer is — incarcerate them for the rest of their lives, strip the abominable criminals like child rapists and murders of their share of sunshine, the sound of birds chirping.
One may ask the question here, then why not just kill the criminal and get done away with the business? This is because in India (as in many other countries with death penalty) there is an abysmal lack of equality and fairness in criminal jurisprudence. This is also a matter that boils down to the judge of the day’s personal convictions. What is sauce for the goose isn’t sauce for the gander in this country. Here is a glaring example given by the Supreme Court for commuting Santosh Singh’s death sentence to life imprisonment. He deserved to live because he got married! What about Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a poor man who was already married? Ah! More on him later.
Some might still argue that the fault is in with the system and not the punishment itself. Just for the sake of argument, let us take the example of Indira Gandhi’s killers. Three men – Satwant Singh, Kehar Singh and Balbir Singh were sentenced to death by the trial court. Apart from Satwant Singh who was one of the killers, Kehar Singh and Balbir Singh were sentenced to death for the conspiracy to assassinate Indira Gandhi. They appealed to the high court, which after studying the evidences against the men upheld the trial court’s order of the death sentence. (It must be noted that all death sentences are reviewed by the high court of the state in India now.) Then they moved the Supreme Court. No one had any doubt over the fate of the three men even there. The country was seething, the government was in no mood to forgive. However, the Supreme Court, to the surprise of many not only overturned the death sentence on Balbir Singh, but acquitted him and he walked free! Imagine what were happening in the country pre-Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab landmark case.
In India, the window period to find new evidence to prove a condemned man innocent is very short. There had been many, many cases, especially the US where life imprisonments [example] and death sentences were overturned after new evidences surfaced after the prisoner spend decades in prison [a list], and at times pardoned after the execution was carried out [example]. Forget about the barbarity of the punishment for a second, this is reason enough to do away with death penalty. Once a person is put to death, there is no way you can bring the life back. It is forever.
There is no proof that the provision of death sentence in a country’s law is a deterring factor to criminals who are motivated enough to kill. Every year thousands of people are executed for homicide world wide. Yet, there are no stats that prove that homicide cases have dropped in those countries. On the contrary, it appears to have only increased. Contrast this with countries that do not carry out judicial executions such as European Union countries. Violent crimes are the lowest in the world in those countries.
When Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Hetal Parekh, I opposed it. One of my arguments was if we were hanging the same man who committed the crime almost 15 years back. A man changes a lot awaiting execution for 15 years. His motive was to avenge the insult and subsequent loss of job as watchman in the housing society due to Hetal’s complaints against him. It wasn’t just a senseless random rape and murder. Yet, I was attacked due to whatever I wrote and discussed on forums (like this one). I received over 500 emails a day from a Yahoo! Forums group, 90 per cent of which were hatemails, some even calling for my death. Some suggested that (surprisingly many females too) that Dhananjoy be made to drink acid and put to death in the most gruesome way. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s wife said in public that he be thrown to hungry tigers.
Those made me wonder if sometimes punishment should act as retribution sought by society. Many years later, Mahesh Jethmalani said exactly the same thing on TV in favour of the death penalty on Kasab. I strongly disagree. First, retribution is retribution, not punishment. We don’t live in an eye-for-an-eye world. If anything, we are trying to get out of such mindset. Today, will the law allow us to kill those who embezzled billions of dollars of public money, and yet stashed over one and half trillion dollars in overseas accounts? Don’t many of our country want to hang Kalmadi and Raja? Why the disparity then? Don’t those astronomical figures of embezzled public money fall into the rarest of rare crimes?
Well, we are no China or Iran, and don’t want to be like them. Then, why can’t we think better and be like one of those European countries?
I want Kasab to be spared, Afzal Guru to be spared. A solitary life behind bars leaving them to introspect for their whole lives is good enough retribution and punishment for me.
Nice post…great post….wish you write more…..dont take long gaps…sharing this with my friends…
What do you think about death penalties for scamsters, black money hoarders etc?
I am as clear as crystal in my post on the issue. No retribution. Reasons given. No death penalty
I must be honest here ..I am editing my answer for the 5th time cause the The Question itself is very challenging and thus being ( or at least my degree says so ) a software engineer i will give a direct flow chart for the situation .
Consider 2 situations .
1 If D Sing still feels he was right in committing the crime and has no sympathies for the departed clearly he does not deserve the right to live .
2 If not and on a serious note he realizes what he has done was very brutal and an act of evilness i suggest these steps
a) A real back ground check of him as a person
b) will lead to weather him doing the crime intentional or motivational (IMP)
c)will justify his actions and thus his right for living .
Remember the cause is important and no murder is done without intention and murders of such kind are definitely not .
We may never know why he did it or what may be the actual cause of such a homicide. If all these points still add up being against this man …i can only say ” You destroyed a life ..You dont have the right to live it any more ”
If not and he admits to his crime and feels really sorry I reckon a
life imprisonment and some sort of realization must be given to this man .
Dara Singh has said that the kids were not the target. They were killed because they happened to be there when the mob led by him set afire the jeep they were sleeping in.
The larger question is of crime and punishment. How does putting to death a man punish him? Isn’t death penalty an oxymoron where you emancipate the criminal of his worldly miseries through death? And, I am sure you won’t condone torturing a murderer as a just form of punishment, or do you?
nicely written. But, as you know, I disagree 🙂
i believe that the death penalty ought to exist on the Statute books. But its use needs to be rare.
Is it for justice – what justice is there for the family of murder victims. the dead are dead. hanging someone is not going to bring them back to life
It is for punishment – rest of your life in a small cell. in solitary. or hang now. is the death penalty in this case a punishment or is it an escape.
is it to teach a lesson – if you hang someone, it is an effective way of stopping all lessons 🙂 for ever
So why do i still support the state having it on the Statute books – because once in a while you come across a set of crimes that needs to be punished by death. Call it retribution on behalf of society. call it barbarianism. Eg. the Nithari Killings – where someone brutalised children, murdered them and stuffed them in shallow burial grounds. or people who took part in the rape or murder of Priyanka Bhotmange
On Kasab, i don’t really care either way. He was a lowly gun man. However, if they find the guy who conceptualised and planned the attack – i would like to see him hang (after a fair trial:)
On people like Dhananjay – ditto.
On people like Dara Singh – slightly more ambiguous – if he planned and executed it yes. if not – no.
On Afzal Guru – ditto.
but, i buy your point – evidence gathering mechanisms need to be stronger. Defence lawyers need more access to the evidence.
For, now i will argue against imposing the penalty at random. but, i wouldn’t strike it off the statute books yet …
Sir as I said in my first line .. There are heaps and heaps of solutions . I just came up with one of em . But nicely put up this article must say , well done . P
Thanks for notifying me of this post!
I did not go through all the links. Did go through the ToI one comparing the punishments in two different rape cases.
The topic you’re trying to deal with is so complex that the comment will have to be nearly as long as the blog post itself! 🙂
Let me try to first enlist the ‘goals’ of legally mandated punishment (not necessarily death sentence) – some that you and others have mentioned and the most prominent one that others have not talked of, which will be the first point I discuss:
1. PUNISHMENT IS PART OF CONTRACT ‘SIGNED’ AS PART OF LIVING AS A GROUP OF HUMANS.
To award a designated punishment is a ‘promise’ made by the law-keeper to all the members of the community over which such a keeper has jurisdiction and also to the potential criminals within the same community. I’ll give an example: you are four friends and you get a bar of chocolate to share among yourselves, which has four blocs, so each of you gets a block each. However, not all of you are there in the house when the bar gets delivered. So, you decide that each of you will have only one block per day and not eat into the blocks meant for others. This arrangement is made on the condition that each of you four would respect the terms and conditions. It also so happens that it is decided by all the four unanimously that if it is found that one of you on a given day has two blocks, the next days, he will not get any block. Do not look at this arrangement as a retrospective measure. It is an arrangement that is already in place even before the ‘crime’ of eating more than one’s share is committed by any one. Just like how it is expected that the four individuals will *keep their word* of not eating others’ block, it is also expected that the four as a group also *keep their word* of awarding the ‘punishment’ once the crime is committed. So, one way of looking at all the punishments is to look at is some kind of *obligation* by the State towards itself. So, under this situation, by way of remaining in the group of four, you are consenting to be deprived of your share of a chocolate block for two consecutive days the moment any you have somebody else’s block also apart from your own in their absence/without their consent.
Let me give another example. You order food in a restaurant with the knowledge that once your meal is finished, the bill will arrive and you will have to pay for it. Meaning, you are *consenting* to pay for the bill the moment you order the food. Likewise, in a society, it is assumed that the prospective criminal *knows* the consequence of certain acts, i.e., Court trial and punishment. Meaning, the moment they knowingly commit a crime, they are *consenting* to be punished. So, the moment a rapist commits rape with the complete knowledge that it is illegal to do so, he is consenting to be punished the way the Law provides for. In simpler words, though we choose to call the responses to certain kind of acts as ‘punishments’, the fact is these punishments are nothing but part of *terms and conditions* of living in the society. When the criminal himself/herself is consenting by way of committing a crime to be ‘punished’ the way it is written in the law books, who are we to complain? This part has nothing to do with retribution/reform/correction/crime-prevention, etc. It’s plain simple contractual thing to punish in response to certain kind of acts. This was a very weird, ‘ethics’/’philosophical’ perspective of punishing ‘for the heck of it’.
2. TO PREVENT A CRIMINAL FROM COMMITTING THE *SAME* CRIME.
This might sound weird, but in some cases it can be assumed that crime becomes a way of life. E.g., just like there are professional doctors who treat patients, professional bank tellers who make money transactions on behalf of the banks they work for, there are ‘professional’ pickpockets, robbers, extortionists, terrorists, etc. Just like how doctors have to take a special training to learn about diseases, their diagnoses and treatment and how bank tellers know the legalities associated with handling of money, because they are trained in them, ‘professional’ criminals get ‘committed’ to the job they specialize in. The fact that they get trained in such hard to do jobs itself attests to the fact they would like to continue committing the same crimes. Whatever be their motives, they need to be prevented from coming in contact with the vulnerable members of the society. And the most effective way of doing that is to imprison them. Yes, ideally it should be a case that these people must never be able to come in contact with the general public, however, that might be seen as unethical. So it is assumed that, while they are imprisoned, they get reformed, would also be given some other vocational training and would give up their old ways, and if that happens successfully, then there would be no need to segregate them from the general society. Again, this aspect of imprisonment has nothing to do with retribution or sadism – it’s plain common sense.
As an extreme example, if a dreaded terrorist is apprehended who had taken such intensive training in using arms/creating and had never thought it necessary to acquire some other life-skills, then again it is safe to assume that such people would want to keep on killing certain kind of (innocent) people, because that is the only major skill they had acquired. So just like to prevent future pick pocketing how it would seem prudent to separate pick pockets from the general public, it might seem prudent to try to use the most effective means to prevent a terrorist from committing the *same* crime he had committed before, and in that death penalty seems an effective means, because the criminals unlike the pick pockets, when they repeat the same crime they had committed before would have far worse consequences.
Plus, there is an entire practical angle to apprehended terrorists. In many cases, there can be further terrorist strikes/hijackings/kidnappings to only get them released. But of course, this concern must not come under the purview of ethical aspect of the Law.
3. DETERRENT ASPECT.
Punishment awarded for a crime may or may not act as a deterrent. It is largely contextual. We need not take into consideration only violent crimes. There are so many things that need to to be punishable to be prevented, e.g., forgery, spreading contraband currency, poaching, which I am sure had they not been punishable, would’ve occurred with far greater frequency.
That some crime exists is not indicate that punishment does not have a deterrence value. Had those punishments not been there, perhaps, rate of crime would have been much higher.
You gave the example of Europe, however, I do not know if crime rate is lower because judicial executions do not take place over there. Likewise, I don’t think if judicial execution were to be introduced there in the legal system, then the crime rate would increase.
Above were the three major reasons I think any ‘crime’ needs to be punished. To summarize: 1. To fulfill the contractual obligation of living in a society; 2. To prevent certain habituated criminals, or those ‘committed’ to the life o crime from committing the same crimes and 3. To serve as deterrence for others.
My points were in general about punishment meted out in response to crime and not specifically about death sentence.
With regard to death sentence, I would like it to be there for hardened terrorists who would’ve avowed their life to spreading terror. This has got more to do with pragmatism rather than actual ethics or the feeling of retribution.
Regarding your other points:
1. The ‘calibration’ of punishment in accordance with its severity, circumstances, motives, etc. can be pretty arbitrary. E.g., how certain crime deserves 3 years or 5 years or 7 years of maximum punishment is pretty arbitrary. Also, the gradation of severity of a crime may not always be satisfactory. The fine imposed is also not keeping in with the times. Also, same amount of fine might be back-breaking for a poor person whereas it would pea nuts for some affluent person.
2. There is now very little doubt that a lot of discretion and subjectivity exists in meting out punishments in general and not just death sentence v/s life imprisonment. I had read somewhere that the lower court judges tend to be overzealous in awarding death sentence as they tend to take it as some kind of achievement. It gives them a sense of power. Whereas, by the time they would have been promoted to higher courts, their outlook tends to soften up and a death sentence would no longer provide them the ‘kicks’. Sounds coarse, but sort of makes sense to me.
3. Yes, it is true that many persons look at punishment to criminals as a means of retribution. You are very right that there is indeed an element of sadism involved. This, I had most prominently noticed in case of death sentence to Kasab, something that I had found very distasteful.
4. However, there are many who feel that life imprisonment is worse than death sentence. I also tend to agree with this idea. I do not see the state of being alive as the only goal of life. A life bereft of happiness and full of hardships with no hope of getting out of it whatsoever is much worse than death that occurs in a matter of moments. Perhaps, it is this sentiment that also makes me oppose keeping euthanasia (mercy killing) illegal.
5. Death sentence is entirely irreversible. Actually, the time spent in jail by an innocent victim is also irreversible in that that time cannot be retrieved back, yet there would still be some hope for redemption and recovery in latter case. And that is the biggest reason, death sentence should be used very, very sparingly.
So, whether death sentence at all should be part of the legal system? I would tend to say “yes”, but more for the pragmatic reasons I provided above (including the fact that I actually consider life imprisonment worse than death sentence – it is possible that those being awarded death sentence would be so afraid of the prospect that they would engage lawyers to get it ‘down scaled’ to rigorous life imprisonment, but perhaps, we do not follow up the cases enough to know if and when their sentence gets commuted, do they start regretting it; do they then, after experiencing a few weeks of rigorous imprisonment, feel that death sentence would have been better?).
However, the idea of awarding death as a means of retribution or exercise of sadism is something very distasteful to me. I would like ‘administration’ of death to be lot less violent and painful than hanging, say, using general anesthetics.
Lastly, I must congratulate you on taking up such an important issue as death sentence and talking of if from so many perspectives. 🙂
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Though I tend to agree with most of what you have written, I can’t agree with you on the life imprisonment argument vis-a-vis putting a criminal to death.
1. You said that even time spent by an innocent man can’t be brought back. But he can be compensated in many different ways.
2. I find it reasonable to believe that a full life behind bars is inhumane. I agree and for that matter only, I am such a big advocate of the EU norms. There must be mandatory parole hearings periodically for criminals by pragmatic professionals to honestly assess if a criminal has reformed satisfactorily and that begins with having shown adequate remorse to his crime and his desire to be a useful and productive member of the society. Even for the most heinous crimes, the first parole hearing should not exceed 20 years in incarceration for a first time offender. However, this is not for habitual offenders who have repeated their crime after being let off knowing fully the consequences.
3. Death penalty, as I discussed in one of my comments above is actually an oxymoron. It’s no punishment at all. In fact, you are emancipating a criminal from his worldly miseries. (A note at this point — long drop hanging, as practiced by India is actually painless. Death comes within milliseconds after the medulla oblongata is detached, which happens almost instantaneously after the drop.) It, totally defeats the concept of punishment.
The same arguments can be made in favour of keeping other corporal punishments like amputation of limbs in the statutes, and exercise them, as you say, in very extreme cases.
Here it is:-
Recently, Supreme Court of India dismissed plea by CBI asking to overturn life term awarded to Dara Singh, who lead a mob that eventually burnt alive Christian missionary Dr.Graham Staines, to death sentence. The crime was condemned by various quarters of the society and without any doubt heinous in nature. The people involved in that tragic incident, with Dr.Graham Staines(aged 58) were, his two sons Philip (aged 10) and Timothy (aged 6) while sleeping in his station wagon at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district in Orissa, India on Jan 22, 1999.
What followed was a long debate across all the social networking sites and Television whether the decision to overturn the penalty was correct or not. We all agree that the crime was condemnable and heinous in nature. I really don’t want to jump into that debate of why the decision was overturned.
The reason for me writing this post is whether death penalty should be given at the first place. It has been long a matter of debate in today’s society whether death penalty serves as a justified and valid form of punishment. As soon as the term death penalty or capital punishment comes up people from both the sides start yelling their arguments.
I am in favor of death penalty given the crime committed is proved in the court of law. I would also like to make it very clear that we are looking at death penalty given the person gets a fair trial with his rights protected within the framework of the constitution of the country.
There are two most important conditions which the court in the just world looks for; the first being the crime committed by a person must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. And second being it should be rarest of the rare case.
Now let us evaluate the argument given by people that how you would justify that a crime committed is grave in nature and it is rarest of rare to get a capital punishment. As we all know that different countries have different laws and in some countries capital punishment can be given for insulting religion (Blasphemy law for e.g. in Pakistan). Some countries consider petty crimes like stealing, grave in nature. I would like to ask them some questions and would assume here that they are not under influence of anything before answering my questions and also, that they are reasonably educated with an eye on world affairs:-
Do you consider these countries are unbiased towards both the sexes i.e. Men have same rights as women? Do you think that an individual’s human right is preserved in such countries? Do you think that they have freedom of speech? Are there any laws which makes an outsider(neutral person) think that he/she is not in 21st century ?If you call Sharia a law and Taliban a government then this post is not for you!
Most of these countries which give capital punishment and other atrocious punishments (like beheading, amputation etc.) for petty crimes are either lawless or their courts are a joke. They always find the lowest spot in Human rights index like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya etc. I am in no mood to discuss law and order situation of such countries which are fighting for their survival and often termed as failed state by the world media and organizations. I assume that you read newspaper and it is known to all of you.
Now if you look at the developed countries (like USA, EU etc.) and at the Democratic developing countries (like India etc.) you will see that their law doesn’t allow you to give capital punishment for petty crimes. The capital punishment in these countries mostly given the case in justifies being the rarest of rare and grave in nature.
What would you define a grave crime in a civil society where everyone have equal rights irrespective of cast, creed or religion? A cold blooded murder qualifies for grave crime. Now you can argue several people get murdered every year in every country, should we hang all the culprits? That’s where rarest of the rare comes in. You really need to appreciate the beauty of the law here. The crime has to be so brutal, the circumstances should be so unique and effect on society should be so bad, to be qualified for a rarest of rare case and hence death penalty. Also notice how I used “cold blooded murder” above, usually a crime of passion doesn’t qualify for capital punishment. The crime that is committed in extraordinary circumstances in the impulsive moment and in no manner is the crime pre-meditated or thought thoroughly, that individual is said to have committed a crime of passion.
Now Is death penalty a deterrent to the crime? Yes, it is definitely a deterrent to the crime. People are afraid of death more than any other moral punishment. Imprisonment constitutes one evil, the loss of freedom, but the death penalty imposes a more severe loss, that of life itself (Pojman & Reiman, 1998, p. 61). They claim that death cuts criminals from all ties that lead to future possibility which ultimately takes away all hope for the criminal involved. If you think that it is not the case ask yourself why so many mercy petitions are being filed after getting capital punishment. It is the fear of death which sends a chill down the spine. Stats. says the same:-
In 1995, George E. Pataki became the New York Governor and reinstated the death penalty which had not existed in that state for many years. This decision resulted in a 22% decrease in assaults and a one-third decrease in murders throughout the state. In 1980 in Texas, the murder rate without the existence of the death penalty was 18 per 100,000 people. Nearly 20 years later, the death penalty was reinstated and the murder rate dropped to 9 per 100,000 people. In 1980 in Houston, Texas in particular, there were 701 murders which decreased to 241 murders in 1998 (Johansen, 1998). Although it appears that supporters have substantial evidence toward their claim, abolitionists argue that those decreasing rates are due to other factors such as an increase in crime-control measures in both states within those years (Notis, 1997)
To fight and deter the crime the law enforcers should give them every possible tool, including the death penalty. If you do not have death penalty in the law books the criminals will have no fear and unacceptable level of violence will permeate on the streets.
No case illustrates this point more clearly than that of Arthur Shawcross. In 1973, Shawcross, one of New York’s most ruthless serial killers, was convicted of the brutal rape and murder of two children in upstate New York. Since the death penalty had been declared unconstitutional, Shawcross was sentenced to prison. After serving just 15 years-an absurd prison term given the crime-he was paroled in 1988. In a horrific 21-month killing spree, Shawcross took 11 more lives. That is 11 innocent people who would be alive today had justice (read Capital punishment) been served 24 years ago; 11 families that would have been spared the pain and agony of losing a loved one. Preventing a crime from being committed ultimately is more important than punishing criminals after they have shattered innocent lives.
Death penalty serves as a basic reminder to the public that crime does not get rewarded. It sends a message to the public that if you kill innocent people, than the price that you will be forced to pay will undoubtedly be quite high (Bedau & Cassell, 2004).
Other than the deterrent effect you also need to consider implications of giving life imprisonment on the society. Imagine a scenario when a person commits a rape/murder at age 20.Even if he gets the maximum sentence he will be out at 35 years of age. Age mellows down people and their hostility, but only after you are too old or let’s say 50.If the person is out on the streets at 35, he lost his 15 years, but he is still young. He will go for revenge otherwise he will commit another crime. Who will take the responsibility for that?
Also, If you want to stash so many dangerous criminals in jails, who will bear the cost? We the Taxpayers! Now why should an innocent citizen of this country pay for a criminal/murderer/rapist to keep him alive? There is no moral obligation, which I can think of, which will justify such insanity!
I believe in giving second chances but there are some cases/incidents for which no one should be given second chance i.e. rarest of the rare.
Now you can get email notifications for new comments on the thread where you have commented. Also, I have enabled cascading comments on my posts. Have a look.
Thanks for the suggestion. Cheers!