I’ve been out of blogging for a couple of months now while I moved back to University from Kenya. A combination of fatigue, new distractions and illness have kept me busy enough to focus on other things for a while. I have not lost interest in the subject – those of you who also follow me on Twitter will know that my online reading/sharing remains pretty do-gooder.
I am now starting my dissertation which will see me reading and researching a lot in an attempt to better understand a topic: to me, these are the parameters for succesful blogging. My topic, thus far, is fairly vague: perceptions of capital punishment.
My first tentative foray into the world of do-goodery was with an NGO which focused on prisons in Uganda. We had fairly regular interactions with death row inmates and I was amazed to find them more or less normal. It surprised me. I suppose I was expecting people more radical, I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s because death row inmates tend to either be evil men or wrongfully accused innocents when they’re portrayed in drama. Perhaps it was my own laziness as I hadn’t particularly thought about this group of people before. Nevertheless, it was one of the experiences that got me hooked on the world of development.
As I became slightly more educated on issues like social justice and theoretical approaches to crime and punishment it became clear to me that capital punishment shouldn’t be endorsed rationally by anyone. Leave aside the moral or ethical concerns for a second. It’s amazingly expensive and it doesn’t have any significant effect on crime. Which leads me to my central question:
Why does capital punishment continue to have so many proponents?
Huge numbers of people all over the world are pro death penalty – countries with different levels of economic development, different religions, different cultures and values ALL seem to come together when capital punishment arises. Why?
I’ll be (hopefully) posting more regularly from now on as I go about figuring out this question. In the meantime, if you are interested may I direct you towards Orwell’s brilliant essay A Hanging.