Patrick C Notchtree
Hang 'em High - my case on capital punishment
When a particularly horrible murder is committed, especially where sex or children - and especially where both those are involved - there is a natural tendency to demand vengeance of the ultimate kind. This is understandable, but wrong.
This kneejerk reaction is wrong on four main counts:
- Legal. Capital punishment is against UK and European law - which Britain helps to make and pass. And it went out of use in the UK before we joined the EU so it was a UK decision anyway. There is a distinction between vengeance and justice.
- Ethical. If killing is wrong, then all killing is wrong, whether carried out by criminals or by the state. Once you start to subdivide that, it's the thin end of a long wedge that could erode hard won liberties we all benefit from.
- Practical. It doesn't work. Murder rates in fact fell after capital punishment was abandoned in the UK, yet conviction rates went up. This is because juries were far more reluctant to convict if a person would hang in case they were wrong. And there were far too many cases of innocent people being hanged.
- It costs more. Surprising but on the evidence of democratic countries where capital punishment is still in use the number of appeal cases, the maintenance of high security while the convict goes through numerous appeal processes mean the legal costs run to millions. And the cost of execution is not cheap either.
One only has to look at other countries where capital punishment is still in use to see how ineffective it is.
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