It uncovers wide-ranging acts of resistance committed by death row prisoners that forced capital punishment onto the political agenda in Jamaica, generated significant doubts about the justice and efficacy of the death penalty, and led to an unofficial moratorium on executions in the late-1970s during which numerous death sentences were commuted. 24 Jamaica, Department of Statistics (1953-1989). After the jury had returned its verdict, the trial judge sought clarification of Gordon’s age at the time of the. Among the prisoners’ complaints about their treatment on death row were a “lack of proper medical attention, lack of sunlight, inadequate exercise, insanitary conditions, infrequency of baths and the attitudes of Prison staff frustrating their visitors”. The two men who appear from their death certificates to have been executed for murders committed when under 18 were George Grant, executed as an 18 year old in 1969 for a murder committed 18 months earlier, and Lawrence Sinclair, whose age was recorded as 20 when he went to the gallows in 1972 for the 1969 murder of Stafford Williamson. Along with Eaton Baker, Paul Tyrell, Horace Coates and Everton McFarlane, whose sentences were commuted on the same day, the crime for which Hector was condemned to death had been committed when he was under the age of 18 and he had been sentenced in line with the provisions of a controversial 1948 amendment to Jamaica’s Juvenile Law that prohibited capital punishment only for offenders who were under 18 at the time of sentencing.66 Appeals against the Juvenile Law and the controversy and delays they generated were crucial to the fate of individual prisoners and – more broadly – helped create the conditions that sustained a broader attack on the death penalty throughout the rest of the decade, notably by drawing national and international attention to the law’s capriciousness and fallibility, and contributing to the long delays in enforcing death sentences that allowed for the emergence on death row of a group of radical prisoners united in common cause. Death by hanging was the mandatory penalty for murder and the number of death sentences handed down by Jamaican courts each year grew from roughly fourteen in the late 1960s to an average of nearly fifty in the 1970s. They also had access to a shower, were granted two visits and could write two letters each week and were allowed into the corridor between their cells for fifteen minute periods of exercise two or three times per week. B. By contrast, the younger prisoners were more militant. After eighteen months of investigations that involved psychologists and social workers interviewing dozens of condemned inmates and submissions from a range of legal, political, religious and human rights bodies, as well as member of the public, the Fraser Report was published in 1981.4, 6In identifying death row prisoners as key actors in the history of capital punishment, this article pioneers a new direction for historical scholarship on the subject. Official death certificates indicate that at least two men may have been under 18 at the time of murders for which they were executed in the late-1960s and early-1970s, while Everton MacFarlane was only 17 in early-1975 when the Jamaica Privy Council upheld his death sentence and issued a warrant for his execution to proceed. 20 Murder was the only offence for which the death penalty was imposed in this period. Report of the Committee to Consider Death as a Penalty for Murder in Jamaica, 1981. Hector recounted that the “older people”, alongside whom he was first incarcerated on death row in 1972, “perpetuated the myth that a prisoner of the Row could do nothing to influence the ultimate decision of one’s case and survival. He relied on fellow inmates to hide papers and smuggle them to the outside where the Jamaica Council for Human Rights coordinated the book’s publication. As Blue argues, these individual and communal assertions of humanity and dignity mattered on their own terms for the condemned, their families and the many state officials involved in the processes of execution. Three of the men broke away from their guards and armed themselves as they were transferred from death row to the cells adjacent to the gallows. Sociology degree. A psychological examination carried out in April 1991 on Ivan Morgan, who had been under sentence of death since 1979 and had, on three occasions, been moved to the death cell adjacent to the gallows only for his execution to be postponed at the last minute, provides an unusually detailed and official record of the impact of death row on an inmate’s mental health. Hector had learned that his life was to be spared from a radio news broadcast shortly after lunch on 12 September 1975. , Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2003. The justices nonetheless gave a strong steer in support of clemency for the appellants, drawing attention to the potential for the prerogative of mercy to serve as a mechanism for mitigating unequal punishments in appropriate cases. On arrival, they were met by the prison’s senior warder, assigned a religious affiliation when they declared they had none, and escorted to a reception room where they were fingerprinted, photographed and searched. In terms of occupational status, thirty-one men were described in the report as “unskilled” and most had jobs that were “sporadic” and “seasonal” and provided a low and irregular income. Schabas, W. A., The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law, Third Edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002. A court injunction issued on the eve of the first of these scheduled hangings caused a further delay and it was not until August 1980 – when the Senate’s eighteen-month moratorium had expired but the Fraser Committee had yet to report – that Conrad Dwyer eventually became the first person hanged in Jamaica in more than four years. Hood, R. & Hoyle, C., The Death Penalty: a Worldwide Perspective, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008. Amnesty International, Jamaica, the death penalty: report of an Amnesty International Mission to Jamaica, London, Amnesty International Publications, 1984. Clarke, C., “Politics, violence and drugs in Kingston, Jamaica”, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 2006, 25, 3, pp. They also drew up a petition for a stay of execution, which was signed by hundreds of inmates and sent to the Governor-General. & Whitman, L., Prison Conditions in Jamaica, May 1990: An America’s Watch Report, New York, Human Rights Watch, 1990. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far this year. The army was called in to restore order, the men were recaptured and viciously beaten and the prison put on lock-down. Each cell was furnished with a narrow bed, a table and chair, all made of concrete, and prisoners were provided with a water mug and a slop bucket. It was only a case that the place of our suffering had changed from the ghettos to the prison”.48 In part, this interpretation reflected a generational shift. A further fifty-eight men would die on the gallows at St Catherine District Prison over the next eight years, including Stanford Dinnal and Nathan Foster who were put to death on 18 February 1988 in the last Jamaican executions to date. In a submission to Cabinet in 1977, Rattray warned that there remained acute public distrust in the judiciary and the unregulated work of the Jamaica Privy Council on clemency appeals in death penalty cases. Second, the Gun Court Act (1974), created a new court designed to speed up the trial of crimes involving illegal firearms by significantly restricting defendants’ due process rights, but this did not extend to capital cases, and the proportion of murders that were solved fell sharply from more than 90 percent in the early-1960s to just 50 percent by the late-1970s. In a dissenting judgment that was damning in its assessment of his colleagues’ reasoning, Lord Salmon advocated for clemency more explicitly. At hearings in July 1975, three appellate judges concluded unanimously that there was no merit to Stewart’s new version of events and it was in fact her new testimony rather than the original evidence that was given under duress. 69 Maloney was ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure. In return for promises of homes, jobs and protection from the police, criminal dons organised whole communities to support their chosen candidates. (1967), which found that the Constitution did not establish any new rights that were inconsistent with the common law as it had stood when the Constitution was adopted in 1962. did not bring a final resolution to the legal and constitutional questions concerning Jamaica’s death penalty laws and young offenders. 4 In its most recent report on the death penalty in the English-speaking Caribbean (ESC), Amnesty International acknowledged that” [i] t is undoubtedly true that die death penalty enjoys popular support across the ESC. 53 “Man hanged”, Gleaner, 20 October 1971, p.2. Annual Report of the Visiting Committee of the SCDP for 1950, St. Catherine District Prison: correspondence with Wardens and others; minutes of meetings, reports etc. At least two months earlier, the prisoners had obtained hacksaw blades with which they painstakingly cut through the bars of their cells. In June 1979, Rattray established the Fraser Commission to investigate the future of the death penalty. 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