NEW DELHI: Death penalty is shrinking budget for crime prevention programs, the Centre for Criminology & Public Policy (CCPP) has said, in a recently released policy paper.
The think-tank has criticized the expansion of death penalty to child rapists, saying the move will "result in more acquittals than convictions." CCPP's Director and the paper's author Rochin Chandra said that the document has been prepared in consultation with several experts, including legal researchers, police officers, advocates, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and rehabilitation consultants.
The paper has opined that before expanding death penalty to child rapists, the government should have carried out a scientific assessment to check whether death penalty has acted as a deterrent for crimes.
The paper has highlighted the need for stricter implementation of laws, and diversion of public expenditure into child sexual-abuse prevention programs such as schemes for relief and rehabilitation of child victims.
In its paper, Udaipur-based CCPP has also cited data to show the ineffectiveness of cost of death penalty as compared to its closest alternative-life imprisonment without parole.
The paper mentions that during 2004-2015, about 1300 prisoners were put on death row, but of those, only four cases resulted in execution.
"These figures show that legal process for death penalty is significantly longer and more complex than for life imprisonment, and applying such a punishment for child rape will only result in more acquittals than convictions", states the paper.
Stating that there are loopholes in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018-which prescribes death penalty for child rapists-the paper calls the expansion of death penalty a "fiscally irresponsible decision."
Emphasizing that the matters of death penalty take more time to be disposed of by courts, the think tank has said that expansion of death penalty will lead to increase in the cost of prison management. "The government will have to bear the expenses of locking up death row convicts, while also paying a team of judges, defence lawyers and prosecutors for many years - often decades - to debate whether a sentence of death should be imposed on them," according to the paper.
Another argument cited by CCPP against expansion of death penalty is that the fear of death penalty may encourage rapists to kill their victim in order to cover up the crime and eliminate the prime witness. Elaborating on how execution of death penalty is shrinking the budget for crime prevention programs, Chandra cited the example of a public-police outreach program of Ahmedabad police "whose budget got shrunk on this account."
"Because of government's heavy reliance on death penalty, the budget for such innovative and workable programmes is shrinking," said Chandra. Chandra added that CCPP will soon send the policy paper to the government for consideration.