The Instigator
dogparktom
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
giantrobot11
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Compassionate Release from Prison - Lockerbie Bomber

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
dogparktom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,716 times Debate No: 9269
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)

 

dogparktom

Pro

Introduction:

By BEN McCONVILLE, Associated Press Writer Ben Mcconville, Associated Press Writer – 18 mins ago
EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scotland freed the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds Thursday, letting the Libyan go home to die despite American pleas to show no mercy for the man responsible for the 1988 attack that killed 270 people
http://news.yahoo.com...

Issue:

Should the Lockerbie Bomber have received the compassionate release from prison?

I answer YES and take the PRO position.

Arguments:
1. A government has the inherent authority to temper justice with mercy. 1

"Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said although al-Megrahi had not shown compassion to his victims — many of whom were American college students flying home to New York for Christmas — MacAskill was motivated by Scottish values to show mercy.

"Some hurts can never heal, some scars can never fade," MacAskill said. "Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive ... However, Mr. al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power."
http://news.yahoo.com...

2. Releasing a prisoner facing an imminent death from prostate cancer is a justified act of justice tempered by mercy. 1

" Al-Megrahi, who had served only eight years of his life sentence, was recently given only months to live after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer"
http://news.yahoo.com...
________________________
1. "
From Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

PORTIA: The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there

http://www.phrases.org.uk...
giantrobot11

Con

"1. A government has the inherent authority to temper justice with mercy"

Just because the government has the authority to do so does not mean it should. The government is acting on emotions (compassion as stated) rather than reason. He did now show compassion to his 270 victims: http://www.victimsofpanamflight103.org...

Giving freedom to someone responsible for the deaths of 270 is not serving justice. This man was given a punishment in the intention of serving justice. Given a life sentence, his death in jail was definite anyway.

Giving freedom to such a criminal was not the only way of showing compassion. Freedom =/= Mercy. He could have been given special conditions while incarcerated, and made his last months comfortable.

"2. Releasing a prisoner facing an imminent death from prostate cancer is a justified act of justice tempered by mercy. 1"

Why is it justified?

What of the families and friends of the 270 victims? Minister McAskill speaks of forgiveness, but it is not up to him to forgive. He has not been affected by Al-Megrahi's crimes. Frankly, it is an insult to those truly harmed.
Debate Round No. 1
dogparktom

Pro

CON ARGUES:
""1. A government has the inherent authority to temper justice with mercy"
Just because the government has the authority to do so does not mean it should"

PRO RESPONDS:
I thank CON for agreeing with my first argument which implicitly also means: Scotland has the inherent authority to temper justice with mercy.

CON ARGUES:
"Just because the government has the authority to do so does not mean it should. The government is acting on emotions (compassion as stated) rather than reason. He did now show compassion to his 270 victims: http://www.victimsofpanamflight103.org...;

PRO RESPONDS:
Regarding CON'S statement "Just because the government has the authority to do so does not mean it should.", a government must first act in accordance with its LAW. Scotland did act according to due process of law. The Scottish official, Mr. MacAskill, who acted for the government stated in an interview Mr. Blitzer:

"But in Scotland, our justice system is not predicated on vengeance, but on bringing people to account. And equally, our value system is predicated on seeking to treat people in a matter that is merciful and compassionate, even if they do not show to us as we would wish to show to them.

Blitzer: Do you...

MacAskill: So I'm so heartfelt sorry for Mrs. Cohen and every other victim for the Scottish, UK, American or wherever else. But equally, we are adhering to the values that we have and are following the due process of law that we possess."
http://www.cnn.com...

Further, in his official statement, http://www.firmmagazine.com... , MacAskill states in part:
______
"I now turn to the issue of compassionate release.

Section three of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 gives the Scottish Ministers the power to release prisoners on licence on compassionate grounds.

The Act requires that Ministers are satisfied that there are compassionate grounds justifying the release of a person serving a sentence of imprisonment. Although the Act does not specify what the grounds for compassionate release are, guidance from the Scottish Prison Service, who assess applications, suggests that it may be considered where a prisoner is suffering from a terminal illness and death is likely to occur soon. There are no fixed time limits but life expectancy of less than three months may be considered an appropriate period. The guidance makes it clear that all prisoners, irrespective of sentence length, are eligible to be considered for compassionate release. That guidance dates from 2005."
___________________________

Clearly, the prisoner was eligible to apply for a compassionate release. He met the criteria of the government's policy ( a terminal illness likely to cause death soon). His compassionate release was justified on legal grounds.

CON'S statement ""Just because the government has the authority to do so does not mean it should. The government is acting on emotions (compassion as stated) rather than reason" is INCONSISTENT with HIS AGREEMENT with PRO'S ARGUMENT: " A government has the inherent authority to temper justice with mercy"

CON both concedes and denies that a government can act on an emotion, such as mercy (compassion). His argument is self-contradictory.

CON ARGUES:
"He did now show compassion to his 270 victims: http://www.victimsofpanamflight103.org...... "

PRO RESPONDS:
The argument is not relevant to the question: "Should the Lockerbie Bomber have received the compassionate release from prison?:

The question is primarily a question of law.

CON ARGUES:
"Giving freedom to someone responsible for the deaths of 270 is not serving justice. This man was given a punishment in the intention of serving justice. Given a life sentence, his death in jail was definite anyway."

PRO RESPONDS:
The argument is not relevant to the question stated immediately above.

CON ARGUES:
"Giving freedom to such a criminal was not the only way of showing compassion. Freedom =/= Mercy. He could have been given special conditions while incarcerated, and made his last months comfortable."

PRO RESPONDS:
Prison authorities do try to provide prisoners with the care and treatment that their medical condition requires. Indeed, they have a legal duty to do so. But, the prisoner in this case applied for a COMPASSIONATE RELEASE FROM PRISON under the existing law and policy. The authorities were required by law to consider his petition regardless of his crime and sentence. Mr. MacAskill mentioned the equal protection of the laws: "Equal Protection of the Laws, constitutional guarantee that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same safeguards provided by law as are enjoyed by others under its jurisdiction." http://encarta.msn.com...
He met the relevant criteria under the government's policy: 1. He suffers from a terminal illness (prostate cancer), and 2. which is likely to cause his death within three months. Thus, he was initially eligible to be released from prison.

CON ARGUES:
Against PRO'S ARGUMENT "2. Releasing a prisoner facing an imminent death from prostate cancer is a justified act of justice tempered by mercy. 1" , CON ARGUES:

"Why is it justified?"

PRO RESPONDS:
Here is Mr. MacAskill's reasons for his decision:
"Having met the criteria, it therefore falls to me to decide whether Mr Al-Megrahi should be released on compassionate grounds. I am conscious that there are deeply held feelings, and that many will disagree whatever my decision. However a decision has to be made.

Scotland will forever remember the crime that has been perpetrated against our people and those from many other lands. The pain and suffering will remain forever. Some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade. Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive. Their pain runs deep and the wounds remain.

However, Mr Al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.

In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.

Mr Al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them.

But, that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days.

Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown. Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people. No matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.

For these reasons - and these reasons alone - it is my decision that Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing, now terminally ill with prostate cancer, be released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya to die. "http://www.firmmagazine.com...

I argue that the decision to release the prisoner was justified because it was not unreasonable.

CON: What of the families and friends of the 270 victims? Minister McAskill speaks of forgiveness, but it is not up to him to forgive. He has not been affected by Al-Megrahi's crimes. Frankly, it is an insult to those truly harmed
PRO: Not REL.
giantrobot11

Con

a government must first act in accordance with its LAW"

Scottish law does not imperatively demand the release of terminally ill prisoners, it only allows it.

"The question is primarily a question of law."

No it is not, as it has established it is within the law to do this. It is a question of whether the government should have utilised the law. Like I have stated before, just because you can does not mean you should. Law could give government authority to murder citizens. The fact that something is within law does not make it moral or desirable.
Al-Megrahi was sentenced to a lifetime in jail, and I see no reason why illness should change that
Debate Round No. 2
dogparktom

Pro

YOU argue first that granting a compassionate release is not a mandatory, but a discretionary act by the government.

I agree. Not all the petitions for compassionate release have been granted by the Scottish government..

YOU argue that:
"No it is not, as it has established it is within the law to do this. It is a question of whether the government should have utilised the law. Like I have stated before, just because you can does not mean you should. Law could give government authority to murder citizens. The fact that something is within law does not make it moral or desirable.
Al-Megrahi was sentenced to a lifetime in jail, and I see no reason why illness should change that"

I'm not sure that I understand your argument:
Do you argue that Scotland's compassionate release law and policy is not "moral or desirable"?
Or, while you concede that the law and policy is "moral and desirable", do you only argue that the particular compassionate release of Al-Megrahi is not "moral or desirable"?
I look forward to your answers in the next round.

My next argument is based upon the following text:
"Mercy is a word used to describe compassion shown by one person to another, or a request from one person to another to be shown such leniency or unwarranted compassion for a crime or wrongdoing."
http://en.wikipedia.org...

The key phrase is "leniency or unwarranted compassion for a crime or wrongdoing."

Al-Megrahi's crime of mass murder is a huge and terrible criminal act. Considered ONLY from the standpoint of law and justice, he belongs in prison and he should serve the sentence that he received from the court. However, Scotland's law and policy allows justice to be tempered by mercy. Scotland NEED NOT temper justice with mercy in its law. But it does.

But lets look at the case from the standpoint of law and justice tempered by mercy:

In Al-Megrahi's case, there was a change of circumstances. He developed terminal prostate cancer.
He met the criteria in the government's compassionate release policy.
Therefore, he was eligible for mercy, for "leniency or unwarranted compassion" notwithstanding the gravity of his crime.
He has been allowed to return to his home to die in the presence of his family.

Considered from the viewpoint of his family, I argue that the "unwarranted compassion" for Al-Megrahi is a justified act of mercy.
giantrobot11

Con

giantrobot11 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by dogparktom 7 years ago
dogparktom
Blessed are the merciful.... http://bible.cc...
Posted by dogparktom 7 years ago
dogparktom
http://en.wikipedia.org... has been updated to reflect the case and subject that we are debating.
Posted by dogparktom 7 years ago
dogparktom
Aquinas on Mercy:

Because he was a great philosopher and theologian, I often consult Aquinas on issues or subjects of interest. The compassionate release of prisoners is about mercy. Here, from the Summa Theologica, is a relevant passage:

Aquinas asks: Whether mercy is a virtue?

He answers:

I answer that, A virtue may take precedence of others in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in comparison with its subject. In itself, mercy takes precedence of other virtues, for it belongs to mercy to be bountiful to others, and, what is more, to succor others in their wants, which pertains chiefly to one who stands above. Hence mercy is accounted as being proper to God: and therein His omnipotence is declared to be chiefly manifested [*Collect, Tenth Sunday after Pentecost].

On the other hand, with regard to its subject, mercy is not the greatest virtue, unless that subject be greater than all others, surpassed by none and excelling all: since for him that has anyone above him it is better to be united to that which is above than to supply the defect of that which is beneath. [*"The quality of mercy is not strained./'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes/The throned monarch better than his crown." Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene i.]. Hence, as regards man, who has God above him, charity which unites him to God, is greater than mercy, whereby he supplies the defects of his neighbor. But of all the virtues which relate to our neighbor, mercy is the greatest, even as its act surpasses all others, since it belongs to one who is higher and better to supply the defect of another, in so far as the latter is deficient.

Note that The Merchant of Venice is mentioned above by the publisher in this publication of the Summa. I began this debate by quoting The Merchant of Venice.

Note that "of all the virtues which relate to our neighbor, mercy is the greatest."
http://www.sacred-texts.com...
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
Tom and arkwrightman are good debaters. If they are the same person, I suggest that they close one account so that they don't get banned. We wouldn't want to lose a good debater.
Posted by arkwrightman 7 years ago
arkwrightman
Stick it to me Brian! Be brutal, but fair!
Tom
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
Very interesting argument. It deserves a suitably intelligent rebuttal.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dogparktom 7 years ago
dogparktom
dogparktomgiantrobot11Tied
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