Mercy or Justice?


If you had the choice to exercise mercy or justice, which one would you choose?

I think it was around 1967 when the last man was hanged in Victoria, Australia. He was convicted of shooting a policeman and was held in Pentridge Jail. I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought except that he was the uncle of one of my classmates. That put a different perspective on the matter. He had his day in court, was found guilty and imprisoned. So justice was done – or was it?

I know capital punishment is very controversial but I also know that I could never accept that the State has the right to take another person’s life. I would have been about 13 at the time. What did I know? I was very sad for his family, I know that.

It seems that our emotions are greatly magnified in our teenage years. I notice with a lot of people their strongest memories relate to times in their youth. I can still remember my feelings of outrage at the barbaric act of hanging this man. What if they got it wrong?

No doubt I may have felt differently if my classmate’s uncle was the police officer who died doing his job. Somehow I think I would still be opposed to the death penalty. I believe that we don’t have the right to make such a decision.

Surely mercy is more important that justice! Surely there is hope that a person who experiences mercy may be changed by the experience. They may have the opportunity to be rehabilitated and make a positive contribution to society.

What do you think? I would be interested in your views.

cheers for now


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