One of the most unpleasant questions that I have had to face when working on juvenile criminal cases where the defendant is on the death row has been this: “Put yourself in the shoes of the parents of the victim’s child. How would you feel? What would you request for the murderer? Etc
This is both a tough and an unreasonable question. It is tough because putting anybody in the place of a parent who has lost his/her child is difficult, if not impossible. It is a bad question because those who work in the field of human rights or the law are not supposed to put themselves under conditions that the survivors of victims face, because under those circumstances one cannot make a good rational decision. Nevertheless, even if we are put under those conditions, we must foremost strive for real justice rather than try to respond to our instincts for vengeance.
Measures to support respect for justice, even in a murder case, protect basic human rights for everyone in the community. When the rights of a person who has nobody to support him are upheld, then those for individuals who have better resources too will be respected. Therefore, to assert that defending the rights of a criminal means defending the crime is unreasonable and not true. It is clear that no person who works in the field of human rights would claim that a murderer be free without any punishment. What he strives for is that the process that should bring about the appropriate justice is fair, unbiased and under control by monitoring bodies, and furthermore, ensure that the kind of justice that is passed on to juveniles who break the law in their early youth and who mostly end up in prison or face execution because of unpredictable events are fair and proportionate.
My experience has shown that execution is as bad for the government as it is a social phenomena. Just as we must strive to have more humane laws, we must also replace the punishments that have been codified through public culture.
Aside from the fact that violence breeds violence and that the health and sanity of a society are more important than the yearnings of the victims (whose rights must undoubtedly be fulfilled through appropriate reprimands in proportion to the crime), one can cite tens of instances in which executions around the world have not brought safety and public peace to the community. Statistics do not even support a lowering of crime in proportion to harsher punishments.
Contrary to the views of those who believe that defending a juvenile criminal who is condemned to death is irrational, justice-seeking reasoning and opposition to executions exist rather than being an emotional response, are there so that the crime and its causes are contemplated more fully in an effort to prevent the crime.