Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Redemption or Retribution

Back in 1994 the Privy Council stated that Earl Pratt had been on death row for way too long - about 16 years at the time, and could no longer be hanged for the murder that he and Ivan Morgan were convicted of in 1978.

I interviewed him the next day in the Spanish Town Penitentiary. At the time it seemed to me that there were way more people that I would have preferred to see hanging from a rope than Earl Pratt, who seemed like a decent enough murder. I even hoped that he might have been unjustly accused.

I interviewed Ivan Morgan the next day. He did not look like a man who had just escaped the death penalty and seemed much more concerned about his poor state of health. He died in jail about a year later.

About a week ago, after almost 30 years in jail, Earl Pratt was released. He has since been to church and has preached to youngsters about not following his footsteps. On radio this morning he admitted that he had infact committed that murder.

But still - I believe that he will be able to make a positive contribution to Jamaica's society - as a man who is seeking redemption. If he can convince people here to turn away from the gun - if less people are murdered as a result, then the society benefits more than it would had his own life been extinguished by the state.

But, the majority of Jamaicans no doubt disagree - and if the government had been legally able to overtun the Privy Council ruling it would have. It is still working on that by wanting to create a Caribbean Court of Justice as our highest court.

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