Following the controversial sentencing of Rodman Lewis who was found guilty November 19 of murdering his girlfriend in 2015, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau shared his opinion on Lewis’ possible death sentencing.
According to a report from Dominican radio station Q95FM, (https://www.q95da.com/), the lead attorney for the State, Sherma Dalrymple made public her beliefs that the heinous nature of the crime warrants an execution, and would serve as a message of deterrence, as she called it the “worst of the worst, or rarest of rare”.
While he expressed sympathy for the victims of the crime and said every crime deserves punishment, the question the Bishop posed is: “What type of punishment?”.
Capital punishment, Bishop Malzaire asserted goes against the teachings of the Church. “It cannot be right in itself and its very nature because it is against God.” In giving the example of the woman caught in adultery, Bishop Malzaire viewed that Jesus was “bent on restoring”.
An Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Communications report further said that the Bishop, in a statement November 26, explained that the Church maintains her position that the death penalty should be abolished.
He quoted the AEC’s Pastoral Letter on Capital Punishment from the year 2000, saying, “Judicial commissions, both local and international, sociologists, and criminologists largely agree that there is no empirical evidence to support the claim that the death penalty reduces the frequency of capital offences. On the contrary, some experts have even argued that jurisdictions that have abolished capital punishment have actually recorded decreasing homicide rates.” (#14, 9).
Bishop Malzaire said that life imprisonment should be used as an alternative to the death penalty. He explained that it is the responsibility of the State to rehabilitate and develop its people “with a sense of humanness”.
He commented that it is a greater punishment to keep someone alive rather than to kill him or her. Remaining in a cell for the remainder of one’s life is punishment enough, but it also allows for them to ponder on their past actions and crime(s) and rehabilitate themselves, said Bishop Malzaire.
“Capital punishment symbolizes a form of despair for the effective reform of persons. Our Christian hope for the conversion and reform of criminals, by contrast, signifies our uncompromising faith in the redeeming grace of God that acts upon humanity’s natural dignity to restore order both to the person and to society.” (#22, p13, On Capital Punishment).
Rodman Lewis’ sentencing is set for February 1, 2021.