Something about the world seems rotten to me today. In a country where child prostitution is common place, where murderers and drug kingpins can bribe their way out of prison, where rape and crimes against women get less punishment than petty crime, 2 reformed, repentant young men were murdered last night.
Australian opinions are fiercely divided about Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the infamous Bali Nine ring leaders. I understand the arguments for the death penalty and in this case, I understand that people are annoyed that these young men broke a law in a country where they knew the consequences and flaunted the rules.
What I don’t understand is the lack of compassion and the complete failure to see that these men had been completely rehabilitated and weren’t asking for a pardon for their crimes, they were simply asking for their lives. Lives which they would have spent behind the bars of one of the world’s worst prisons.
Waking up this morning to the confirmed reports that Myuran and Andrew had been executed I sat in silence and wondered, where do we draw the line on appropriate punishment for crime? When do we cross the line between keeping the streets safe and playing God? As jails get so crowded that the death penalty has become a way to make room, have we given up on the very reason the system was created in the first place?
Prisons came about because there is a need to remove dangerous people from the general population. They are there to keep the “good” people safe from the “bad” ones. The ultimate goal of a jail term is to rehabilitate and reform law breakers. The current system rarely works.
Somehow though, in the case of the Bali Nine ring leaders it worked! The corrupt and inhumane Indonesian prison system actually worked. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said this morning, “Indonesia has not just robbed two young men of their lives but robbed itself of two examples of the strengths of its justice system”.
To the families of Myuran and Andrew I put my voice with countless others in Australia and around the world and say that I did and always will stand for mercy.
While the world burns in Baltimore and shakes to its core in Nepal I hope the human race can rise above and thrive while its people and planet seem intent on destroying themselves. But who really stands a chance in a world where being sorry still has you facing the firing squad?