Guilt and Punishment


murdererThe trial of Allen Tehrankari is over and actually has been for some time but I delayed this post to ensure that I wasn’t posting something that the courts might object to.  Tehrankari was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for 25 years for the first-degree murder of 46-year-old Barbara Galway, whose body was found in January 2005 near Mer Bleue, a popular nature trail in Ottawa’s east end.  I was called to be a juror in this trial and during selection I had to answer one question from the defence. Before I went in to answer the question I kept thinking that until I have any other proof, this guy is innocent. The question was more difficult than I thought. He (the accused – as he was representing himself) asked me if his conversion to Christianity from Islam would affect my judgment of him. The answer I gave was “No. Neither your faith nor mine will not influence my decision.” This was the answer I believed to be the most true, because I believe in the system first. I believe that a jurors duty is to determine guilt not apply their own personal morality or religious beliefs to the case. This as far as I have ever read is how our system works. My belief in the system however was rocked when the accused accepted this impartial position but the crown didn’t and I was excused from the jury. I realise there may be other reasons I was excused but if the crown wanted a juror that would take Mr Tehrankari’s religion into account during the trial then are they looking for biased jurors?  This is why I don’t support the death penalty. If the Crown did want a biased juror, then were they really looking to convict this man on the evidence or on the opinion of the jurors?  That said Allen Tehrankari, is by anything I have read, one of the most heinous criminals that ever walked the streets of Ottawa. Why can I say this now? Because both in my mind and according to the courts Allen Tehrankari is guilty. But would I want an imperfect system to hold the power of life and death over a man even a man as evil as Allen Tehrankari no.  For every Tehrankari type out there, there are the Milgard types as well. Milgard was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit in a poorly conducted trial only to be exonerated years later. The innocents that could be convicted and sentenced to death are not worth the benefit of the death penalty. If we say it is acceptable that one innocent die so we can kill 1000 guilty men we are deciding the fate of an innocent man. The life of one for the life of another can only be given willingly. So long as one person rejects the death penalty then it cannot be applied. Why? Because if I reject the death penalty and I am falsely accused of murder and sentenced to death, then all those that voted for the death penalty are my murderers. If we all accept the death penalty we all accept the risk to our lives, that I might do but I do not accept the risk to the lives of others.

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4 thoughts on “Guilt and Punishment

  1. There is another consideration.

    What if the death penalty is a better protector of innocents than is a life sentence?

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”

    Article removed by editor until I have looked at the site more thoroughly.

    I am not being arbitrary Dudley as I don’t allow any links in comments without approval.

  2. Dudley – Given that you have a background in this I will withhold a critique of your argument that the death penalty is a deterrent and protects innocents. Personally I do not think it does but have no proof at the moment to back that up besides the recollection that I have read articles that say it is not (but that is no proof).

    However your article does state that there has been no case of execution of an innocent in the US. I would argue that there is no incentive to prove otherwise at least from the states point of view in fact there is incentive to not prove such a case. I did however refer to a case in Canada were an innocent WAS convicted of a Capital crime and would have been executed had such a penalty been allowed to be applied, that being the case of David Milgard, and as I stated one innocent executed makes murders of us all.

    After I investigate your assertions I will have more to say, it is too bad that your article did not include links to the 16 studies you refer to this lack really weakened your argument, something you might want to fix.

  3. Okay Dudley I have done some more reading. Your articles contradict each other in one case you say few and n another it appears that you are arguing that there no executions of innocents. I take offence to the fact that you spend so much time arguing the definition of Innocence v the legal definition etc… but to be fair I am placing a link to one of your articles one I find the most indicative of your position.

    Your statement that;
    “The death penalty debate in the U.S. is dominated by the fraudulent voice of the anti-death penalty movement. The culture of lies and deceit so dominates that movement that many of the falsehoods are now wrongly accepted as fact, by both advocates and opponents of capital punishment… If you are even casually aware of this public debate, you will note that every category contradicts the well-worn frauds presented by the anti-death penalty movement. The anti-death penalty movement specializes in the abolition of truth…”

    Is garbage there is no conspiracy just concerned persons that refuse to let the vengeful rule the world. Your assertion that people claiming “the death penalty has a foundation in hatred and revenge…. is a false claim,” has little wieght when published in Homicidesurvivors.com.

    Here’s the link so those that want to see just how weak your argument is can read it for themselves. http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/20/the-death-penalty-neither-hatred-nor-revenge.aspx

    Take note I chose one of your less polemic rants. One innocent death is one to many and contrary to your position there have been many and even you know that.

  4. “If we say it is acceptable that one innocent die so we can kill 1000 guilty men we are deciding the fate of an innocent man.”

    I completely agree. If we lock people up, we’ve protected society, and if the convicted individual is subsequently proven innocent (as in the case of David Milgard), at least we can give him back what’s left of his life.

    I do not believe for a moment that there have been zero cases of wrongful conviction in the USA. There have been many such cases in Canada, not just the Milgard case. The USA has ten times the population, a higher per capita incarceration rate, and considerable public support for cowboy justice. We’re supposed to assume that the US justice system never rushes incorrectly to justice? Hah!

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