THE Opposition yesterday poured cold water on National Security Minister Robert Montague’s announcement that he is contemplating the resumption of hanging in Jamaica, arguing that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to murder and is not the solution the country’s nagging problem of violent crime.

According to Opposition spokesman on justice and governance, Senator Mark Golding, countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty generally remain the safest, with the least number of murders. “Those states in the United States which retain and apply the death penalty (for example Texas) are not the states which enjoy the lowest murder rates in the US. The active use of the death penalty in Jamaica did not prevent the carnage of murders in 1980,” Golding said. Noting that it is not necessary for the resumption of hanging at this time, he said that murders have declined by 40 per cent since the extradition of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in 2010, during an era where the death penalty was not a factor.

He said that the Opposition is of the view that the death penalty cannot be the solution to Jamaica’s problem of violent crime. “Violent crime in Jamaica has several root causes, and curbing it requires solutions that address those causes,” he said. Golding suggested that Jamaica needs, among other things, growth with equity that creates good-quality employment opportunities for our people, so that they aren’t drawn towards criminal organisations and violent crime. He added that the modernisation and strengthening of the justice system need to be continued, and the implementation of the Justice Reform Programme should not be allowed to lose momentum. “I do not regard minister Montague’s announcement, that the Government is seeking “to determine if there are any legal impediments for the resumption of hanging in Jamaica”, as a serious policy initiative that will be implemented. The Government can’t hang more people; nor, as a practical matter, can Parliament. Only the courts can make that happen, and the courts are governed by the rule of law and, in particular, the human rights guarantees in our Constitution,” Golding said.

In addition, he said that the reactivation of the death penalty after 28 years would bring condemnation and adverse criticism on Jamaica from international development partners that are not in support of capital punishment. Last week, Montague said Government remains committed to mobilising all the resources at its disposal to wage a “relentless war” against criminal elements “intent on destroying our nation”. To this end, he said the Administration is currently exploring the possible resumption of hanging. Noting that it forms part of the crime-prevention strategies aimed at creating safer communities by tackling “lawless elements”, Montague said his state minister, Pearnel Charles Jr, has been asked to consult with several stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Office, to determine if there are any “legal impediments” to be addressed. He said the ministry’s overall approach to creating safer communities is based on five key pillars of crime prevention: social development, situational prevention, effective policing, swift and sure justice processes, and reducing re-offending.

MEANWHILE….
Missing American missionary found dead.

ST MARY, Jamaica – OBSERVER ONLINE has learnt that the body of an American missionary who was earlier reported missing, has been found. 

The search for Harold Nichols concluded a short while ago when a team of police and residents found his body in St Mary.  His head was reportedly bashed in.
A search was launched for Nichols after his colleague, Randy Hentzel, who is also an American, was found dead on Saturday afternoon.
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PORT MARIA, St Mary — Sunday afternoons are traditionally spent at home with family members in Jamaica; however, for the residents of Boscobel in St Mary, Sunday, May 1 was spent searching for a man they loved, even as they grieved for another.

Their hope was to find Harold Nichols alive; however, they were left disappointed and overcome with grief as Nichols’ body was discovered after 4:00 pm yesterday. The body of 48-year-old Randy Hentzel had been found a day earlier on Saturday afternoon, after 12:00 pm. However, there were no signs of his colleague, missionary Nichols, after the two went on a trail in the Albion Mountain area on Saturday. Reports from the St Mary police are that the two men rented motorcycles in Ocho Rios and went on the trail. Residents stumbled on Hentzel’s body after 12:00 pm and the police were summoned. Deputy Superintendent of Police Dwight Powell said Hentzel’s body was found face down with his hands bound with a piece of cloth believed to be torn from his shirt. One of the motorcycles was seen beside his body. The second motorcycle was found approximately three chains away. However, there was no sign of the second missionary.

While residents hoped for the best on Sunday, they were left disappointed after the body of the second missionary was found. His head was reportedly bashed in.

The police, along with approximately 70 residents, searched for Nichols from approximately 7:00 am Sunday morning until after 2:00 pm. They later returned to search with the help of canines when the body was found. The two men, who have been visiting Jamaica for the past 14 years, have done much work in the Boscobel area. “They have Bible study at their homes; every day the children go there,” Councillor for the Boscobel Division Fitzroy Wilson said. “I have been working with him for the past six to seven years,” Wilson said of Nichols. Such was the evidence of their work, that residents turned out in their numbers to aid in Sunday’s search. “When the children go to Bible study, he provided refreshments for them. He helped some of the kids with money for school, with their back-to-school,” Wilson said. He said Nichols and his team also built homes in the Boscobel area for indigent people.

“We have three houses now that we are working on, and just [last] Tuesday we had a meeting,” he said. He said at the meeting it was revealed that a mission team would visit the island next week and work would have continued to assist the residents. “It’s just sad. It is very, very sad,” Wilson said. An elderly woman who was among the residents said she was out with those who searched on Sunday because she, too, has benefited from the assistance of Nichols and his team. “That man build a house and give me,” Goffeth Miller said. Sharon Scott of the Red Cross in Boscobel said Nichols assisted the team to build a house for a homeless man last August. “Those two men are two well-loved men in the community,” she said. Scott said residents wept openly on Sunday after the gruesome discovery was made in the Albion Mountain area. Community grieves after 2 American missionaries found dead