PolReport 22 Aug 2006 / #1“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, proclaims the proverb and the Poles enthusiastically agree. Why? The Polish reality is a harsh one, where life sometimes is worth no more than a cell phone or a few dollars. Thus, the vast majority of Poles crave the reintroduction of death penalty, and, as they claim, for a good reason.Although Poland uses a Catholic message, the message of love and forgiveness promoted by the gospel does not seem influence neither the criminals nor the enraged public. Today, as many as thirty thousand criminals await their turn to go to jail, and more are added daily to the queue.And although the Bible proclaims, “Do not kill”, neither the perpetrators or the angry public cares much for that message. For many a Pole, permanently getting rid of murderers seems like an attractive and universal solution for the problem, and the number of murderers in Polish jails grows by the day.The penalties that the Polish courts decide are a joke, people claim. A killer sentenced for a gory murder to a lifetime in jail walks the street in less than ten years, free to kill again, which happens. They also point out that keeping murderers in prison is not only costly, but pointless. If the state kills the killers, they never get another opportunity to become repeat offenders and the death penalty is not revenge, but simply a just payment for a murder. If it works also as a deterrent, but the most important aspect of the death punishment is, simply put, getting rid of the heinous individuals for good.The Poles point out the gory statistics since 1998, when the death penalty was executed for the last time in Poland. The streets are unsafe, people get killed for no reason, or for a small financial gain, there is a number of cold-blooded murders where simply no other punishment is adequate. An example they quote is the recent case of a young female university student thrown from a train by several young, strong men looking for a perverse thrill. The girl was killed.The perpetrators will be given jail sentences and will get out in a few years time. Is this justice, the Poles ask? What if it was my daughter on this train?No wonder almost eighty percent of Poles want the death penalty reinstated. Not many reflect that many societies, that do not have a death sentence, like the Nordic countries and many others, do not have this kind of problem that seems to be specifically Polish.Very few ponder the fact that what happens in a society actually reflects the way it functions. The increase of the number of cases, not only violent killings, but also other crimes, sadly mirrors the dire problems within society: the poverty, the homelessness, the social injustice, the unemployment, the lack of social responsibility, and deficient upbringing.By administering the death penalty, Poles seem to want to get rid of the symptom - which is not unimportant in itself - rather than to rectify the cause of the problem, seeing the death penalty as a quick-and-dirty solution, much less complicated and less time consuming, than trying to alleviate the underlying structures that lead to crime.True, today’s killers are beyond hope and society is probably better off if they are dead, but the main question remains how to prevent a new generations of murderers without a conscience that grow up and roam the Polish streets. Has someone asked the poignant question: “Why does Poland have this problem of such a dimension?”The US has ghetto-killers that fill its death rows, where their background can, in part, explain their behavior. Could it be that Poland’s harsh social reality is reflected in the type of criminals the society fosters?There should be no mercy for killers. It is the victims that we should sympathize with, exactly as the Poles do, but nevertheless, it should be pointed out that if you train a dog to kill, it is your responsibility if the animal kills. If society fosters killers, whose responsibility it is if they do what they are predestined to?No one has been hanged in Poland since 1998, when the last killer was hanged by the state – a man, who killed seven people whom he shot using a rifle in order to rob, and undoubtedly deserved to die. Undoubtedly, the state should – in some way - try to get rid of asocial individuals that do not respect the sanctity of human life. On the other hand, a good question is when the behavior ceases to be asocial and becomes a social one. How many killers is normal in a society?As a new EU member, Poland is hardly going to reintroduce the death penalty in the near future, although the Kaczynski brothers (of whom one is the Polish President, the other the leader of the leading PIS party), as they have claimed before being elected, will have it introduced. Instead, the current state of limbo is likely to continue, where the majority of citizens want one thing, while the politicians do another. That’s democracy for you. A suitable music for the Poles in this situation seems to be Metallica’s “Kill ‘em all”, album - it is the closest they will come to the reintroduction of death penalty for years to come.