2019 South African general election: Analysis and News

'Death penalty will cost state millions, and does not solve crime problem'

It is irresponsible and misleading for political figures to make unjustified claims about the effect of the death penalty.

So says attorney Clare Ballard, who heads up the penal reform programme of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

Ballard has written an opinion piece slamming parties that are using calls for capital punishment as a cheap political trick as the elections approach.

Read: IFP says SA should be talking about the death penalty

Such political parties include the likes of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African Transformation Movement (ATM).

Ballard says there has been no credible evidence to prove that the death penalty is an effective deterrent for crime.

There is absolutely no relation between the prevention of crime and the nature of punishment.

Clare Ballard, Head - LHR Penal Reform Programme

She explains that social interventions should take precedents over punitive measures.

The lawyer adds that the criminal justice system cannot even ensure conviction of an offence and should not push for arbitrary execution as it undermines Constitutional law.

Punishment happens after one is caught and we are not catching criminals.

Clare Ballard, Head - LHR Penal Reform Programme

To use the death penalty when there is a sense of arbitratiness in its execution is a Consititutional problem.

Clare Ballard, Head - LHR Penal Reform Programme

Aside from extensive research proving that the death penalty is not a crime deterrent, Ballard explains that years of multiple appeals end up costing the state millions, including the expense to the state of the prison time.

The death penalty will cost the state millions and does not solve the crime problem.

Clare Ballard, Head - LHR Penal Reform Programme

What is the deterrent to the high crime situation?

Ballard says it is all about catching criminals with efficient law enforcement processes, and successful convictions. Currently, she says, only 8% of criminals are caught.

Catch the criminals and successfully convict them.

Clare Ballard, Head - LHR Penal Reform Programme

Listen to the discussion on Upfront with Refilwe Moloto:


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