The Death Penalty

Busaholic

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Mod Note: Posts #1 - #20 originally in this thread.

Curious difference between the visual and the audible. The words scrolling up the screen say ‘murderers pay for their crimes’, but he sings ‘murderers die for their crimes’.
In a G.B. context, the Death Penalty was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1969, The catalyst for this was the campaigning of the Labour backbench MP for Nelson and Colne Sydney Silverman, a Liverpudlian who had the ear of Huyton's MP Harold Wilson, conveniently Prime Minister at the time, and the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins. You have to take into account the age of the various people performing this song, that is the ones who remain. I'm a Pete Seeger fan, though not obsessively so. The abolition of the Death Penalty here was a non-whipped 'conscience vote by the way, with some surprising pro and anti votes on show, though it's fair to say most Tories wished the penalty to remain.
 
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Xenophon PCDGS

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In a G.B. context, the Death Penalty was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1969, The catalyst for this was the campaigning of the Labour backbench MP for Nelson and Colne Sydney Silverman, a Liverpudlian who had the ear of Huyton's MP Harold Wilson, conveniently Prime Minister at the time, and the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins. You have to take into account the age of the various people performing this song, that is the ones who remain. I'm a Pete Seeger fan, though not obsessively so. The abolition of the Death Penalty here was a non-whipped 'conscience vote by the way, with some surprising pro and anti votes on show, though it's fair to say most Tories wished the penalty to remain.
Of course, amongst the criminal fraternity, a good number of the high and middle ranking ones still not only believe in the Death Penalty, but still actively carry out executions.

Glad to hear you are a Pete Seegar fan, his sister Peggy was very talented also. I remember watching him in a filmed concert somewhere in Australia singing "The Bells of Rhymney".
 

nw1

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In a G.B. context, the Death Penalty was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1969, The catalyst for this was the campaigning of the Labour backbench MP for Nelson and Colne Sydney Silverman, a Liverpudlian who had the ear of Huyton's MP Harold Wilson, conveniently Prime Minister at the time, and the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins. You have to take into account the age of the various people performing this song, that is the ones who remain. I'm a Pete Seeger fan, though not obsessively so. The abolition of the Death Penalty here was a non-whipped 'conscience vote by the way, with some surprising pro and anti votes on show, though it's fair to say most Tories wished the penalty to remain.

Shows that the Tories didn't start becoming a party with a larger-than-average contingent of nasty so-and-sos in 1979 with Thatcher; they were well before that.
 

JamesT

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Shows that the Tories didn't start becoming a party with a larger-than-average contingent of nasty so-and-sos in 1979 with Thatcher; they were well before that.
The average person in the UK would have been in favour of the death penalty. It was only in 2015 that polls came up with the majority being against capital punishment - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32061822
 

DynamicSpirit

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Shows that the Tories didn't start becoming a party with a larger-than-average contingent of nasty so-and-sos in 1979 with Thatcher; they were well before that.

I don't think it's at all fair to equate being in favour if the death penalty with general nastiness. I'm pretty sure most of those in favour of the death penalty at the time would been so because they believed that it helped to deter criminals and therefore to protect innocent members of the public. Whether or not you agree with those reasons, those beliefs would amount to a pragmatic desire to do the most good for people, not a particular wish to be nasty.
 

Wilts Wanderer

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Right now I would expect most MP’s view on the death penalty to be aligned to what they think their voter base wants to hear, such is the decline in free politics and rise of populism in our system.
 

birchesgreen

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I'm surprised the death penalty wasn't bought up with some vague pledge (which is quietly forgotten about) as part of the red meat to save BJ's backside.
 

nw1

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The average person in the UK would have been in favour of the death penalty. It was only in 2015 that polls came up with the majority being against capital punishment - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32061822

I'm amazed it's that recently; IMX the death penalty was seen as old-fashioned and barbaric, amongst people I knew, as long ago as the 1980s; I'm amazed 75% were in favour in 1983.

Admittedly I was a good few years away from being an adult then, so maybe out of touch with what your typical adult of 1983 believed. I will say though that the adults I did know well in 1983, largely my parents and extended family, did not appear to be in favour. Even at school, bar a few 'old fashioned' teachers I would imagine most would have been against.


I don't think it's at all fair to equate being in favour if the death penalty with general nastiness. I'm pretty sure most of those in favour of the death penalty at the time would been so because they believed that it helped to deter criminals and therefore to protect innocent members of the public. Whether or not you agree with those reasons, those beliefs would amount to a pragmatic desire to do the most good for people, not a particular wish to be nasty.

By 'nasty' maybe I didn't mean vindictive, but rather sanctimonious and judgmental with a rather savage attitude to justice, as if a criminal can never feel remorse and realise the errors of their ways. Surely a long spell in prison is punishment enough? Once they're dead, they're dead; that life is lost and there is no chance to start again. And that is before the possibility of someone being executed when they were in fact innocent; that reason alone is why, IMO, the death penalty should never be allowed.
 
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MattRat

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Right now I would expect most MP’s view on the death penalty to be aligned to what they think their voter base wants to hear, such is the decline in free politics and rise of populism in our system.
That's how the system has worked for ages. You don't get in unless the majority votes for you, so you take the majority stance.
 

Acfb

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Right now I would expect most MP’s view on the death penalty to be aligned to what they think their voter base wants to hear, such is the decline in free politics and rise of populism in our system.

I don't know TBH, Andrew Bridgen is strongly opposed to the death penalty for example.
 

brad465

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Patel of course has been the main DP advocate, but a very easy argument to use against it is how terrorists often desire martyrdom, and as the death penalty would achieve that, to them it's a reward and certainly not a deterrent.
 

edwin_m

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I'm amazed it's that recently; IMX the death penalty was seen as old-fashioned and barbaric, amongst people I knew, as long ago as the 1980s; I'm amazed 75% were in favour in 1983.
There was a free vote in Parliament about that time, I think it was after the 1983 election when Thatcherism was in its post-Falklands peak (from their point of view - others may differ). I can recall reports that the public was strongly in favour but Parliament voted it down. My own theory is that if you think about it for a short time it seems absolutely logical, but think about it for a bit longer and many people would find the moral and practical problems starting to become a bit more evident. The same could be said of some other of the other rather simplistic ideas that come from certain right-wing sources, whereas people further to the left (maybe not the far left) are more likely to think there's no easy solution. This is of course a crashing generalisation and there will be many exceptions.

However, I suspect that many more of the MPs of 1983 felt they had a duty to look at the issues look and form their own views on what is the right thing to do for the country. Today it seems many of them look at the issues and form their own views on what is the right thing to do for their base.
 

MattRat

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There was a free vote in Parliament about that time, I think it was after the 1983 election when Thatcherism was in its post-Falklands peak (from their point of view - others may differ). I can recall reports that the public was strongly in favour but Parliament voted it down. My own theory is that if you think about it for a short time it seems absolutely logical, but think about it for a bit longer and many people would find the moral and practical problems starting to become a bit more evident. The same could be said of some other of the other rather simplistic ideas that come from certain right-wing sources, whereas people further to the left (maybe not the far left) are more likely to think there's no easy solution. This is of course a crashing generalisation and there will be many exceptions.

However, I suspect that many more of the MPs of 1983 felt they had a duty to look at the issues look and form their own views on what is the right thing to do for the country. Today it seems many of them look at the issues and form their own views on what is the right thing to do for their base.
I'm against the death penalty, but doesn't that show even back then that Parliament didn't truly speak for the people? Of course, I'd hope the general public didn't think like that, but that's a different problem to solve.
 

edwin_m

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I'm against the death penalty, but doesn't that show even back then that Parliament didn't truly speak for the people? Of course, I'd hope the general public didn't think like that, but that's a different problem to solve.
That's one way of putting it. But sometimes putting the interests of the country above public opinion is the right thing to do. A good leader can do that and communicate it in such a way that a good proportion of people accept it. Boris Johnson, as an alleged admirer of Churchill, should remember that his most famous speeches were delivering bad news.
 

MattRat

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That's one way of putting it. But sometimes putting the interests of the country above public opinion is the right thing to do. A good leader can do that and communicate it in such a way that a good proportion of people accept it. Boris Johnson, as an alleged admirer of Churchill, should remember that his most famous speeches were delivering bad news.
Except you can do that to justify a lot of terrible things, and effectively become a dictator.....

Lesser of two evils type situation.
 

yorksrob

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I'm amazed it's that recently; IMX the death penalty was seen as old-fashioned and barbaric, amongst people I knew, as long ago as the 1980s; I'm amazed 75% were in favour in 1983.

Admittedly I was a good few years away from being an adult then, so maybe out of touch with what your typical adult of 1983 believed. I will say though that the adults I did know well in 1983, largely my parents and extended family, did not appear to be in favour. Even at school, bar a few 'old fashioned' teachers I would imagine most would have been against.




By 'nasty' maybe I didn't mean vindictive, but rather sanctimonious and judgmental with a rather savage attitude to justice, as if a criminal can never feel remorse and realise the errors of their ways. Surely a long spell in prison is punishment enough? Once they're dead, they're dead; that life is lost and there is no chance to start again. And that is before the possibility of someone being executed when they were in fact innocent; that reason alone is why, IMO, the death penalty should never be allowed.

Pro-hanging was fairly mainstream in the 1980's as far as I recall.

Life without parole was the alternative, but there was always the fear that the do-gooders would get them let out eventually.
 

Busaholic

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Pro-hanging was fairly mainstream in the 1980's as far as I recall.

Life without parole was the alternative, but there was always the fear that the do-gooders would get them let out eventually.
By the 1980s the arguments on one side were largely being led by Lord (Frank) Longford, the father of Antonia Fraser and a Labour politician who was too grand ever to submit himself to the electorate. At the time the idea of a minimum 'tariff' for life imprisonment had not been introduced, nor a 'whole life' tariff. In theory, every such convicted prisoner was eligible for parole in time. The case of the Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley was being highlighted at every opportunity by Longford on the basis that Hindley was a reformed character who'd embraced Christianity and, in any case, was in thrall to her older lover, Brady. Brady made it clear he wasn't seeking parole (the cynical might say that spared him having to meet Longford) so Longford's efforts were all on behalf of Hindley. Brady and Hindley's barbarism was still very much in public consciousness and all Longford achieved was hostility to his buffoonery.

I've mentioned it before, but feel it necessary here to declare an 'interest'. I was working for Kent Probation Service in the early 1980s, based at Maidstone. Hindley was by then incarcerated in a women's prison close to Maidstone, and had a local Probation Officer allocated to her in relation to any application for parole. I know nothing about the P.O.'s deliberations, interviews and reports, but I'll make this general comment. I heard on many occasions the case made by Probation and Aftercare staff for the release of certain prisoners: I never heard such a case being made for Hindley. All Longford's efforts did was to hasten the day when 'whole life' tariffs would be applied to such as Levi Bellfield and Wayne Couzens, and quite rightly so imo.
 

yorksrob

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By the 1980s the arguments on one side were largely being led by Lord (Frank) Longford, the father of Antonia Fraser and a Labour politician who was too grand ever to submit himself to the electorate. At the time the idea of a minimum 'tariff' for life imprisonment had not been introduced, nor a 'whole life' tariff. In theory, every such convicted prisoner was eligible for parole in time. The case of the Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley was being highlighted at every opportunity by Longford on the basis that Hindley was a reformed character who'd embraced Christianity and, in any case, was in thrall to her older lover, Brady. Brady made it clear he wasn't seeking parole (the cynical might say that spared him having to meet Longford) so Longford's efforts were all on behalf of Hindley. Brady and Hindley's barbarism was still very much in public consciousness and all Longford achieved was hostility to his buffoonery.

I've mentioned it before, but feel it necessary here to declare an 'interest'. I was working for Kent Probation Service in the early 1980s, based at Maidstone. Hindley was by then incarcerated in a women's prison close to Maidstone, and had a local Probation Officer allocated to her in relation to any application for parole. I know nothing about the P.O.'s deliberations, interviews and reports, but I'll make this general comment. I heard on many occasions the case made by Probation and Aftercare staff for the release of certain prisoners: I never heard such a case being made for Hindley. All Longford's efforts did was to hasten the day when 'whole life' tariffs would be applied to such as Levi Bellfield and Wayne Couzens, and quite rightly so imo.

Thanks for your very well informed picture of that particular case that would have informed the views of a large proportion of the general public for several decades. It's particularly fascinating to hear the views of yourself having had a professional interest in one of the defining cases of the last half century !

In terms of the current situation, I do think that the fact that that whole life tariffs have been seen to have been served in full in some notable cases, means that many people who would have been for capital punishment in the past, will be more at ease with the current system.
 
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edwin_m

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Except you can do that to justify a lot of terrible things, and effectively become a dictator.....

Lesser of two evils type situation.
Actually one of the main routes to dictatorship is through populism. Look at Putin, Erdogan, Trump ... Johnson isn't as far down the path but he shows some sign of following.
 

ainsworth74

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In terms of the current situation, I do think that the fact that that whole life tariffs have been seen to have been served in full in some notable cases, means that many people who would have been for capital punishment in the past, will be more at ease with the current system.
It is also worth recalling that even where a whole life tariff has not been made life still means life. Firstly they have to serve their minimum sentence before their eligible for parole (and it does not follow that just because they're eligible means they will get paroled!). Then even if they are granted parole for the rest of their life they will be liable to be recalled to prison if they breach (or are likely to breach) their licence conditions. Those conditions being potentially pretty onerous!

Standard Licence Conditions​

Every release decision will contain a standard set of licence conditions, which are as follows:

An offender must: (a) be of good behaviour and not behave in a way which undermines the purpose of the licence period; (b) not commit any offence; (c) keep in touch with the supervising officer in accordance with instructions given by the supervising officer; (d) receive visits from the supervising officer in accordance with instructions given by the supervising officer; (e) reside permanently at an address approved by the supervising officer and obtain the prior permission of the supervising officer for any stay of one or more nights at a different address; (f) not undertake work, or a particular type of work, unless it is approved by the supervising officer and notify the supervising officer in advance of any proposal to undertake work or a particular type of work; (g) not travel outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man except with the prior permission of your supervising officer or for the purposes of immigration deportation or removal.
The Supervising Officer is the Community Offender Manager (COM).

Additional Licence Conditions​

Licences may also include additional conditions, for example, exclusion zones or non-contact restrictions.

These additional licence conditions come under the following categories:

  1. residence at a specified place;
  2. restriction of residency;
  3. making or maintaining contact with a person;
  4. participation in, or co-operation with, a programme or set of activities;
  5. possession, ownership, control or inspection of specified items or documents;
  6. disclosure of information;
  7. curfew arrangement;
  8. freedom of movement;
  9. supervision in the community by the supervising officer, or other responsible officer, or organisation.
These additional licence conditions need to be specifically asked for by the COM and the Parole Board will decide whether they are necessary and proportionate.


So yes it's possible for someone with a life sentence to be released from prison but for the rest of their life they will be under the scrutiny and control of the State to a significantly greater degree than your average person. That fact always seems to get lost whenever someone (or one of the right wing papers) starts chirping up about how life doesn't mean life anymore.
 

Bevan Price

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Too many innocent people have been convicted of crimes they did not commit to risk a return to the death penalty. Sometimes this has been down to misleading evidence planted by the real criminal; sometimes it has been due to faulty police work.
But I would support a sentence of 100 years without parole for those convicted of murder with no extenuating circumstances.
 

Busaholic

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It is also worth recalling that even where a whole life tariff has not been made life still means life. Firstly they have to serve their minimum sentence before their eligible for parole (and it does not follow that just because they're eligible means they will get paroled!). Then even if they are granted parole for the rest of their life they will be liable to be recalled to prison if they breach (or are likely to breach) their licence conditions. Those conditions being potentially pretty onerous!




So yes it's possible for someone with a life sentence to be released from prison but for the rest of their life they will be under the scrutiny and control of the State to a significantly greater degree than your average person. That fact always seems to get lost whenever someone (or one of the right wing papers) starts chirping up about how life doesn't mean life anymore.
Also 'whole life orders' can only be given to those aged 21 and over at the time of the offences, whereas life imprisonment is applicable from age 18. The principle of those orders was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights a little while back, based on a petition by Jeremy Bamber and others against their orders. Bamber would very likely have been hanged under the pre-1964 Acts, which is food for thought given that in his case there are criminologists who consider it is quite possible that he was not the perpetrator of the murders. The jury reached a majority verdict too.
 

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I am not a supporter of the revenge attitude, but I am also cynical about redemption. I see prison as having two purposes: dissuasion (‘Do something contrary to the common good and your life will not be much fun’) and protection (If you do something contrary to accepted behaviour and may do it again, you should be put somewhere where you can’t). A life sentence should, where necessary in extreme cases, mean being imprisoned until you are so aged or infirm that you are no longer a danger to others.

I am still unsure about the Bamber case. There are rather too many unsettling points about it, but nothing definite.
 

Busaholic

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I am still unsure about the Bamber case. There are rather too many unsettling points about it, but nothing definite.
In a way, it divides opinion like the Hanratty case, though the later DNA obtained from a relative of Hanratty pointed to the likelihood that he had been the murderer and rapist. The woman he raped and left paralyzed, Valerie Storie, also maintained to her dying day that the eyes of the man in the dock were undoubtedly those of her rapist.
 

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Right now I would expect most MP’s view on the death penalty to be aligned to what they think their voter base wants to hear, such is the decline in free politics and rise of populism in our system.
Not really pertaining to the death penalty- in a free vote (or even against the Whip) I don't think a MP would give a stuff what their constituents thought.
 

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By 'nasty' maybe I didn't mean vindictive, but rather sanctimonious and judgmental with a rather savage attitude to justice, as if a criminal can never feel remorse and realise the errors of their ways. Surely a long spell in prison is punishment enough? Once they're dead, they're dead; that life is lost and there is no chance to start again. And that is before the possibility of someone being executed when they were in fact innocent; that reason alone is why, IMO, the death penalty should never be allowed.
The job of the justice system is not only to punish offenders but exact justice. The most egregious murders do deserve death as justice.

It is not justice that murderers spend life - and often very much less - in prison.

Wayne Couzens, for example, should be six feet under.
 

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The job of the justice system is not only to punish offenders but exact justice. The most egregious murders do deserve death as justice.

It is not justice that murderers spend life - and often very much less - in prison.

Wayne Couzens, for example, should be six feet under.
It is not justice for someone to lose their life at the hands of the state when twenty years down the line new evidence is found that blows the original prosecution out of the water. Not only has the wrong person carried the can for a crime that they did not commit, but the person who actually did the deed gets away with it.
 

GB

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If the conviction is unequivocal then I have no problem with it. As said above, Wayne Couzens would be a good contender as would the perpetrators of the various London and Manchester terrorist attacks had they survived. Also the Ian Huntleys and Steve Wrights of this world.
 

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