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Lesson 22

           Should Capital Punishment Be a Major Deterrent to Crime?


            Capital Punishment Is the Only Way to Deter Criminals

    Perhaps all criminals should be required to carry cards which read: Fragile: Handle with Care. It will never do, these days, to go around referring to criminals as violent thugs. You must refer to them politely as "social misfits". The professional killer who wouldn't think'twice about using his cosh or crowbar to batter some harmless old lady to death in order to rob her of her meagre life-savings must never be given a dose of his own medicine.He is in need of "hospital treatment". According to his misguided defenders, society is to blame.

 A wicked s,pciety breeds evil - or so the argument goes. When you listen to this kind of talk, it makes you wonder why we aren't all criminals. We have done away with the absurdly harsh laws of the nineteenth century and this is only right. But surely enough is enough. The most senseless piece of criminal legislation in Britain and a number of other countries has been the suspension of capital puni'shment.

    The violent criminal has become a kind of hero-figures in our time. He is glorified on the screen; he is pursued by the press and paid vast sums of money for his "memoirs". Newspapers which specialise in crime-reporting enjoy enormous circulations and the publishers of trashy cops and robbers stories or "murder mysteries" have never had it so good. When you read about the achievement of the great train robbers, it makes you wonder whether you are reading about some glorious resistance movementg. The hardened criminal is cuddled and cosseted by the sociologists on the one hand and adored as a hero by the masses on the other, It' s no wonder he is a privileged person who expects and receives VIP treatment wherever he goes.

    Capital punishment used to be a major deterrent. It made the violent robber think twice before pulling the trigger. It gave the cold-blooded poisoner something to ponder about while he was shaking up or serving his arsenic cocktail. It prevented unarmed policemen from being mowed down while pursuing their duty by killers armed with automatic weapons. Above all, it protected the most , vulnerable members of society, young children, from brutal sex-maniacs. It is horrifying to think that the criminal can literally get away with murder. We all know that "life sentence" does not mean what it says.

 After ten years or so of "good conduct" the most desperate villain is free to return to society where he will live very comfortably, thank you, on the proceeds of his crime, or he will go on committing offences until he is caught again. People are always will'sng to hold liberal views at the expense of others. It' s aiways fashionable to pose as the defender of the under-dog, so iong as you, personally, remain unaffected. Did the defenders of crime, one wonders, in their desire for fair-play, consult the victims before they suspended capital punishment? Hardly. You see, they couldn't, because all the victims were dead.

    Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.
                      1. Can You Turn Him into a Good Guy?

    "Why don't I give you a lift home if you live on the new estate?" "I'd appreciate that very much," he replied. I fetched my car from the parking lot and he got in with "Many thanks. " He said no more till we were well across the heath. Then, all of a sudderi, he turned to me and said, "Okay. Pull up here." "Here?" I queried. There was not a house in sight, and the weather was shocking. Anyway, I pulled up. The only thing I could remember after that was something thumping down hard on my head. I passed out. When I came to, I was sprawled in the ditch, soaked to the skin, my head pounding, my car gone and my pockets empty.

    I staggered off and eventually tumbled into the police-station to make a report. There was a light shining on the station wall and there, lit up, was a picture of my assailant. I had walked past it for the last seven days. I knew I had seen the face before. He was wanted by the police for armed robbery. I thanked my lucky stars it was not for murder. I looked at the name underneath the face, the face I will never forget. It was-er-it was-oh, bother! I can never remember names.


                         2. Murderers Must Be Hanged

    Murderers are cruel sadistic monsters. They must be hanged. What they do puts them beyond the pale of humanity. They are not humans and therefore they cannot expect to be treated as humans. They must be made to see the error of their ways, and the only way of doing that is by hanging them.
    British justice is the finest in the world,but by.not imposing the death sentence people will think we are failing to punish crime justly. It is the principle of justice itself that is at stake. How can we claim to be a just nation if people who murder are not themselves executed? An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is the very basis of justice.

    Some people claim that hanging is cruel, but it is more humane than the other penalties at present imposed. It is quick, and thanks to modern methods, painless. It is only th'e agitators who campaign against the death penalty who say it is cruel. The reality is that it is a kindness to the murderer. Far better to be hanged than to suffer the slow torture of life imprisonment vhich is in any case a burden on the long-suffering taxpayer.
    There are other objections to life imprisonment. There is the chance that the murderer may escape. He or she would then be free to murder again. Nor is life imprisonment what it says. It is. only a nominal sentence. In no time at all the murderer will be released. How can the ordinary person feel safe knowing that there are murderers on the prowl seeking their next victim?

    The crux of the matter is that only hanging acts as a deterrent to murderers. In the past, many a would-be murderer must have refrained from committing this heinous crime knowing that such an act would result in certain execution. Put yourself in his or her shoes. You would not commit murder knowing .that the penalty for so doing was death. It is the same with murderers.
    So-called liberals point to the experience of other European countries where the death penalty has ceased to exist. But what happens in those countries is no guide to what may happen here. It is our safety that is at risk, not theirs. Only the return of the death penalty can ensure that we can sleep safely in our beds.

                     3. Mediation System Helps Deter Crimes

    Ye Chengmei of Guojiahe Town, Xinzheng County in central China's Henan Province, was beaten by her husband Pan Chenggong over a trifling matter.
    Ye's brother mobilized 14 young men with wooden sticks and spades to teach his brother-in-law a lesson. Hearing the news, Pan Chenggong organized more than 20 young men to fight back.
    At this critical moment, 59-year-old Ye Bingyan, a mediator, appeared and persuaded the men to stop the fight and sit down to talk. Under he mediator's persuasion and his discussion of the law, Pan admitted his wrongdoings and went to the home of his wife's parents to make an apology.

    This is one example of China's people's mediation system which has become a major method of settling civil disputes concerning marriage, family relations, housing, money and property issues.
    China now has more than 1 million mediation committees with over 6 million mediators. From 1982 to 1988, they settled 50 million civil issues, up to 10 times the number of cases went to court.
    In Henan Province alone, more than 287, 000 mediators from 53,642 people's mediation committees have dealt with 5,723,657 cases, preventing losses for 51,343 people.

    The mediators enjoy popular support and respect as they report fhe views, complaints and wishes of the populace to grassroots governments and pass alpng the goveinment principles, poIicies, laws and regulations to the masses.
    The villagers speak highly of Ye Bingyan's work. They say wherever and whenever disputes happen, Ye will be there. He has prevented 15 gang fights, saved the lives of 14 people threatened with homicide or suicide and also helped five couples reunite.
    Ye said the key to his work is concern and love for others.



                           4. Why Was She Set Free?

    An armed robber walked free from the Old Bailey after a kind-hearted judge heard how a nightmare attack she endured in London had turned her to crime.
    Rachet Farrington, of Maypole Road, Sheepbridge, Huddersfield, was only 16 when she left Yorkshire and went to London with her boyfriend.
    A year later she was threatening to shoot a gang of drug dealers while her accomplice, a hardened criminal, tied them up.
    The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to robbery, having an imitation firearm and aggravated burglary on July 5, 1986, but thejudge deferred sentencing for six months and told her to go home.

    "I had intended to impose a sentenee of two years in prison," said Recorder James Crespi, QC. "Your co-defendant was lucky to get only six years.
    "But I am reluctant to send you to prison. You were extremely young. You came to London and got involved with drug dealers. Go back to Yorkshire. Try to get a job and lead a sensible life."
    The judge was told that Rachel found herself involved in London's drugs underworld soon after she arrived.
    She met "a man involved with drugs " who became her new boyfriend, said her defence counsel, Mr.Stephen Leslie.


    Within a month the relationship had turned ugly and she finally left after a horrifying attack.
    "She bore a grudge, but because of things that had happened earlier she did not report it to police," said Mr. Leslie.
    Rachel found a new friend, Garnet Gibson, who proved equally dangerous. He was ten years older than her and had been in prison many times.
    When she told him what she had endured in the attack by her exboyfriend and his associates, Gibson told she could get her revenge and Rachel agreed.
    "Except for the grudge this was completely out of character and she was completely out of her depth," said Mr.Leslie.

    The coupie burst into a flat in North London, where Gibson, armed with an air-pistol, ordered Rachel to tie up the three men found inside.
    But the inexperienced girl did such a poor job of it that Gibson handed her the gun while he tied up the men.
    The victims soon realized Rachel was helpless despite her threats to shoot them and they fought back.
    She was biushed aside by one man and finally she just walked out of the flat and threw the gun away.
    Gibson was soon overpowered by the men and police were called in.


    Rachel admitted everything to police and was bailed, but she fled to Portugal and did not return until a month after Gibson's trial. He was jailed for six years in July last year.
    Rachel was rearrested as she entered Britain. Her mother had sent her the fare home so that she could return for medical treatmeot for a cyst.
    The court heard that Rachel was one of nine children and was from an "excellent" family.
    Her mother, Mrs. Mary Farrington, told the judge that her daughter had got out of hand after her father died of cancer and Rachel lost her job through illness.
    She said: "I have a home for her and the family is willing to help her in any way we can."


                     5. Police Are Pals to Convicts

    It doesn't look like a jail at first sight. Situated in Jixi County in remote
northeastern Jilin Province, this prison has neither high walls nor electrified barbed wire to prevent prisoners from escaping.
    A small wooden fence around the compound looks like those around farmers' fields. Only the wofd "Cordon" printed on the planks suggest something unusual about the place.
    Since 1986 none of the several hundred male prisoners jailed here has tried to escape. And those who have finished their sentences seldom return to crime. The recidivism rate in only 0.5 per cent, much lower than the 3 per cent common in other Chinese prisons.

    Perhaps even more amazing is 80 per cent of the released inmates have become friends of their guards.
    Some ex-convicts have travelled many miles back to the prison to see Wang Hongwu, the head of the security police.
    One sent a bull of fine breed when he heard that a bull was badly needed in the prison.
    It was quite a different story when the prison was first set up years ago. The prisoners toed the line during the day but were hellions at night, stealing chickens from the farmers' cottages and causing all sorts of mischief .These acts precipitated many letters of complaint to the authorities from residents who had become vicitms.
    Then Wang stepped in. That was in 1984.

    To the prisoners' surprise, the 40-year-old security veteran used talk rather than punishment to restore discipline.
    Wang finaliy got to know most of the prisoners and their concerns. Many were afraid that their spouses would divorce them and their children would be left homeless. Many worried about their work and life after being released.
    Wang set out policies to reform his prisoners. He developed educa tion programmes tailor-made to each prisoner's specific case and family background. The prisoners were moved by his sincerity.
    A larcener was frightened when his wife asked for a divorce the first time she came to see him.

    "This is the last time we see each other, ?the wife said. "I sent the divorce papers to the court yesterday. I will return with our son to my hometown in Shandong Province tomorrow."
    Angry and disappointed, the larcener pretended to be indiffeient and said he agreed and that it didn't matter to him what she did.
    "I will find a better girl if I'm released," he told his sobbing wife.
    When she left he burst into tears. Wang came to his cell and asked why he cried since he had agreed to the divorce. The larcener confessed he could not live without his wife; he simply did not want to lose face before the other prisoners.

    Later on, Wang got to know that the couple loved each other deeply. The wife wanted a divorce because she felt embarrassed when she met his friends and was looked down upon by her mother-in-law since he was put in jail.
    Wang believed the man's reform would he harder to achieve if some solution to this dilemma wasn't found. He wrote to the larcener's brother-in-law, his wife's brother who was a middle-school teacher in Shandong Province, urging him to persuade his sister to change her mind.

    Ten days later, Wang received a letter from Wang's brother-in-law, saying that he would try to persuade his sister into taking back the divorce papers and waiting for her husband.
    Half a month later, the wife came with her son to the prison to see her busband and express her gratitude to Wang Hongwu.
    The larcenef pledged to reform and Wang said he would try to get him as early a release as possible.

                      6. Second Chance : a Love Story

    Chen Surong and Zeng Xiangjie are factory workers in Shuicheng City, Guizhou Province. They seem like any other young Chinese couple: they have a two-year-old daughter, live in a two-room apartment and lead a quiet and uneventful life.
    It wasn't always this way.
    Chen Surong was a worker at a plastics factory in Yunnan Province when she met Zeng Xiangjie, who worked at a Guizhou cement factory, on a train in 1975. They fell in love at first sight.
    After two years of correspondence and occasional visits, the two decided
to get married.

    All the arrangements were made and just before Spring Festival in 1977, Chen waited for her fiance to come to Yunnan for the wedding. He never showed up, nor was there a letter of explanation.
    Ten days latcr, Chen decided she must go to Guizhou and find out what had happened.
   It was snowing heavily when she arrived at the Guizhou train station and the roads were slushy as she trudged off to the cement #actory.

   She found Zeng's dormitory and rapped on the door of his room. "Xiangjie, Xiangjie..." she called out, but there was no answer. Finally, she found a key and uniocked the door: the room was empty, messy and there was no quilt on his bed.
Confused, Chen stopped some passersby and asked them abont Zeng. They had never heard of him, they told her. At last, she found an old worker, who said: "You'd better go to the factory security department."

    The young woman ran to the security department of the factory, and was told that Zeng had been detained because "he had been stealing factory property."
    Chen couldn't believe her ears. But then she saw for herself. in the small detention room, Zeng Xiangjie squatted behind a locked door, and she knew it was true.
    "Xiangjie, what's the matter with you?" she asked him.
    He did not raise his eyes. He covered his face with his hands and wept.
    "Come on, what did you do?" Chen insisted.
    "I'm sorry... I deceived you. .. I am a guilty man, I'm ruined..." Zeng numbled as tears roiled down lais cheeks.
    Before she realized it, Chen was aiready out on the street, running madly for the railway station.

    For quite a while afterwards, she could not steep or eat. When she saw a letter from Zeng, she thcew it away, and then she burst into tears.
    It seemed to be an endless ordeal. But as she calmed down, Chen found she could not forget Zeng, or at deast the man she knew. Hadn't he been so kind and helpful at Guiyang train station? When he came to visit her, didn' t he always bring whatever she needed? Hadn't he seemed so smart and so considerate?
    Finally, Chen felt she must not lose Zeng but help him make a new beginning instead of severing the tie between them completely.


    She retrieved the letter she had thrown away. It was a short letter: "Surong, I'm sorry,for I have deceived you. Can you forgive me? I will start anew and be an honest man. You take my word for it..."
    The next day, Chen was back at the cement factory. She met Xiangjie and told him, "A young man should follow the right road, otherwise, he will never find true love."
    Zeng was released, but he was obsessed and worried that Chen might leave him at any time, or that he might be sent back to the public security bureau again. He could not concentrate on his work and as a result, broke three of his ribs in an accident.
    His factory leaders were very concerned about Zeng's injury, and often went to the hospital to see him. They also sent four young workers to attend to him in turn. During the time he was in the hospital, Chen was at his bedside holding his hand.


    Zeng was moved to teais. "I thought I was ruined," he said, "but now with your help and concern, I am confident that I can be an honest and good man again. When I recover, I'll work very hard to repay your kindness."
    Soon afterwards, Zeng recovered fully and as he had promised, came out of the hospital a different man. He was always the first to start work in his workshop and the last to leave. For two years, he never asked for leave and was awarded the title of an "advanced worker."
    In 1981, Zeng and Chen were finally married. Zeng's factory gave the newlyweds a two-room apartment, and Chen managed to transfer to her husband's factory.