In the Uk we stopped capital executions in 1965. At the time what could be called modern thinking had increasingly made the practise unpopular. I was born that year and so throughout my life the criminal justice system has rolled on with no chance of it being reintroduced. Yet the question still remains there for many. So when I see some crimes I will question my reasons why I am against the death penalty.
In 2011 a public survey suggested that 65% of people who responded were in favour of some form of death penalty. It seems that over the last 20 years it depends on what crime is being discussed. The last general survey on the subject that I have found was settled at about 48% in favour.
Since 1965 it seems that the pro capital punishment side have a solid argument. Murder numbers increased in the years following though they have been very level ( give or take fluctuations) for many years now.
It makes sense to me that murders would have increased. Most people seem to obey the usual laws of a country because they don’t want to harm others and do bad things. I mean people do steal and commit violence, but many do not do so on a constant or particularly malicious basis. Equally most people don’t fancy the punishment for crime, even if they are tempted to break the law.
It stands up to some logical analysis that if you are prone to murder, the idea that someone will murder you for it must have a stabilising effect. I am thinking here of the slow burner process of premeditated murder.
Unfortunately many murders are spur of the moment things where we seem to tap into a primal rage and bang, there it is done. I doubt any punishment will stop those.
I recently read of a couple of cases that were not even murderous and I couldn’t help some part of me drifting towards the idea that capital punishment should come back and come back with a vengeance.
The first is the tale of an indolent father of six. He came up with the idea of setting fire to his house and then dramatically rescuing his children. The motive? Well there were a few. The offenders wanted to frame a former girlfriend. They wanted to rake off money from expected donations from the community. They wanted a bigger house provided by the local council and Philpotts ( the father) wanted full custody of five children returned to him.
Philpotts and his new wife and a friend called Mosley rehearsed dousing the small house in petrol and the supposed rescue. In 2013 they carried out the plan. They used too much petrol and Duwayne Philpott, thirteen, his sister Jade, ten, and brothers Jack, nine, John, eight, Jesse, six and five year old Jayden all died.
Now the evidence pointed clearly to them being callous and stupid, but it also showed that they had no discernible intention of killing the kids. So that is manslaughter under the law. Then I saw that the ‘friend’ Mosley is about to be released. He was sentenced to seventeen years. So how is that right?
There was no issue of his guilt, six children dead and he does less than half the time inside. That and this is a guy who once stabbed a girlfriend 27 times. The offence also involved breaking into the girlfriend’s mother’s house to carry out the attack.
Why do need him out and about in society?
I use him as an example of course as it was manslaughter. I suggest it is manslaughter on a technicality and such a cruel, reckless manslaughter that it surely blurs the lines.
Another example recently is an astonishing one but not a murder. I don’t even know the offenders name but this guy raped his sister and sexually assaulted his mother. So he is now in prison after being convicted in Gloucester. I get that if he was identified so would the victims. I understand that is a tricky issue. My problem in the context of this discussion though is what happens when he comes out?
This guy can be released into any community other than the one he came from and no-one will know just how madly dangerous he is. Also, given the number of examples of soft sentencing, how long will he be inside? twenty minutes? His sentence is all of just under seven years…I mean please? Seven years.
With a touch of parole this could be about five years. So what about the death penalty for rape? I mean this guy is said to have sexually assaulted his own mother in 2010 but she didn’t report it. He liked cocaine and alcohol and his defence was that his sister wanted to have sex. I mean this is not a nice guy and all out he is a dangerous guy.
Finally, what about an actual murder? I mean I have heard people openly call for the death penalty on the Philpotts case but technically that would never happen. I have heard of the death penalty being called for on the issue of rape and child sex offences. Let us have a look at a murder.
This case is one of the worst I have come across though very sadly it has a lot of competition. The guy in the picture killed a family of four adults and two children in a Canadian national park. He then placed them all in one of their two vehicles and set the bodies on fire. Worse, he kept the two young girls alive in order to sexually assault them for two weeks ( other accounts say two days) before killing them. Death penalty? Got to be yeah?
However Bad An Offence I Can’t Agree With The Death Penalty
See what you think of these two reasons for not using the death penalty.
First we all die and none of us know exactly how that will happen. Some of us die relatively easily and others of us die not so well. It is a lottery but death is a certainty. Living can be hard, harder than death unless of course there is a heaven and hell and endless fire etc. Life can be a torture if you are in pain or isolated and deprived of liberty. Why give a nice quick death to monsters like the above? How about looking at an alternative form of incarceration?
Second you can’t trust the judicial system and you cannot trust ordinary people. If you watch the awful case above then maybe you asked yourself a few questions I did. Even though the case is an old one and so DNA evidence did not apply. The method of it would have wiped out a great deal of forensic evidence even today. All you really had was a pretty dumb suspect and a rifle.
I asked myself what if someone had shot those people and planted the rifle at some remote farm ( a neighbour they did not like) and then pointed the finger? Would that innocent neighbour have been convicted? I’d say possibly. Then say a few identifiable bits of other evidence were placed for the police to find in a search. What about then?
There are many, many cases where a murderer, or any criminal for that matter, has been shown to be innocent later. A tidal wave of lying witnesses, a mountain of piled up planted evidence, miles of enquiry notes where cops have decided that someone is guilty. It litters criminal history. Every time the headlines push my mind into thoughts that are pro execution I think of those cases.
I suggest we move to that incarceration change. Remove the basics of what makes these people appear human. The contact with people on the inside and out. Remove the soft touch entertainment, the parole hope. Make them live a life that is so bland and empty that it will act as a deterrent and show the world that that is what awaits others.
The advantage is that at least before they are driven mad. Just maybe, if there has been a bending of evidence, you would have the chance to correct it. You can never do that with an execution.
What do you think? I’d like to know.