With the frequency of homicides since the start of the new year, the natural response among Bahamians has been to understand why this surge is happening and what could be done to restore peace within the nation. Consequently, there’s also been speculation of implementing capital punishment, with former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis having endorsed the idea.
However, such a proposal isn’t truly capable of bringing The Bahamas out of the dark times it’s currently in. Crime isn’t something that’s unique to The Bahamas; it’s been present in countless nations throughout countless centuries, and many nations have been able to alleviate their pains, therefore without a proper historical and socioeconomic analysis, nothing can truly be done to bring hope to the Bahamian people.
Capital punishment is nothing more than an impulsive response to crime. Some may argue that capital punishment helps to deter crime, but a study done comparing the murder rates in America between states that perform capital punishment and states that don’t shows that the murder rate has been consistently higher, from 1990 to 2020, within states that participate in capital punishment than those that don’t (“Death Penalty States Compared to Non-Death Penalty States”). This proves that capital punishment isn’t effective at deterring crime.
Furthermore, regarding the causes of crime, it’s been widely accepted that poverty and socioeconomic inequality have been the main drivers for the occurrences of crime, as one economist puts it, “being poor or in poverty has a correlation with violent crime with a high level of confidence” (Quednau, 2021). When this is combined with the fact that The Bahamas is ranked as the 15th most expensive country to live in (“Expensive Countries”), it’s not difficult to see how some may fall into a life of crime.
In looking at history, many of us in The Bahamas would have learned of Woodes Rogers, the first Governor of The Bahamas, who expelled pirates from Nassau, restoring peace and commerce. He achieved this by receiving permission from King George I to issue a pardon to all pirates willing to abandon their lifestyles while being able to receive a plot of land to build a home and live peacefully, all while no longer being threatened by the king’s noose (Cartwright, 2021). Many pirates accepted the deal and worked for Woodes Rogers in various building and restoration projects, being able to live the rest of their days in peace as though they were never murderous pirates.
Now, once again, the alleviation of economic struggles and provisions of better job opportunities is essentially guaranteed to provide a beacon of hope for the Bahamian people. It’s worked before and can work again.
Written by: Clement Butler