Friday, August 5, 2011


Hanging a notice of death on the doors of Wandsworh Prison

We know that the intolerant war on smokers is a regressive social step backwards because to create that concept of a smoke-free world, it depends on employing all of the tactics that we decided decades ago were immoral - like discrimination and exclusion, propaganda, and the stigmatising and dehumanising of a particular group of people.

Therefore, it is no real surprise to me that society is once again thinking the unthinkable and going backwards to the pre-1960s to back a return to the grotesque and barbaric issue of the death penalty.

I fail to see how we can moralise about the Middle East's human rights record on beheading criminals, or China's on public execution to supply the lucrative transplant market yet talk about the "rights" of bringing back hanging to the UK.

Leg Iron doesn't think it's such a great idea either and he questions how great blogger Guido Fawkes has lost the plot on this one and where it could all lead if we just take that first step, that then leads to the "next logical step" decided by someone with more of a political axe to grind than an honest and humane view on who should face the noose.

The Angry Exile takes a look at the issue from a Libertarian view and in one sentence explains why we should never go back to those old dark days :

"If you love liberty the answer is straightforward: you must never, ever entrust the state with any power that you would not also be happy giving to a homicidal dictator."

And let's face it - we do live in a dictatorship that the UK Govt - ie: those people WE are supposed to elect - will allow us no say as to whether we want to be ruled by the unelected iron fist of the EU or not.

I don't believe murder is right and state murder doesn't make it any better. When an individual commits murder, the state wants revenge, when the state commits murder, it thinks sorry is enough. It never is.

At least when there is no death penalty the innocent have a second chance at life but even then when one is convicted of a crime they didn't do - especially one as henious as murder of a child - it doesn't always end well.

Of course Stefan Kiszko at least didn't have to endure the humiliation of a public hanging because it had been rightly abolished by then - partly because of too many innocent people getting fitted for crimes they didn't do such as James Hanratty and Derek Bentley.

And then there are those like Ruth Ellis. I once wrote about her at the time a book was written by her sister who says how her death was barbaric and her family never recovered from what the state did to her. Her son, for exmple, who was a mere child at the time of her execution, committed suicide as an adult.

I accept that Ruth Ellis did pull that trigger but the question remains that she should never have been hanged. Seriously, a decade ago, I saw a woman who stabbed her violent husband to death after a night out walk free from court on a manslaughter charge. I thought of Ellis then but back in her day, public revenge and high morals on sexual behaviour called the shots rather than the evidence. Suffice to say that she was killed because society thought she was a slapper who didn't deserve to live.

I can understand that this new passion to see the death penalty back has come about because of the sheer leniency shown towards those who kill. When Britain abolished the death penalty, the hang 'em and flog 'em brigade were satisfied with a "life for life" sentence in prison but decades on only a very few of the worst kind of criminal - serial killers - get that. Most walk within 10 years and that is not justice to those whose lives have been turned upside down by the murder of a loved one.

People who kill must understand that there is a line to cross and if it is crossed then there is no going back. Their lives will be worthless, uncomfortable and spent in prison until death.

Maybe that thought would have played on the mind of one killer whose case I covered at court back in the 1990s. His girlfriend dumped him and during the long walk he took back to his house, he decided to pick up a huge knife to kill her with. He walked back to her house, stabbed her to death and mutilated her and spent 10 years inside for it. He left two toddlers orphans and elderly grandparents who looked forward to the retirement they earned having to go back to the beginning to raise kids once again.

Had that young man known that his whole life would have been spent in prison as a result, he might have thought very differently on his walk home and not returned with the knife. I still believe that a whole life sentence for murder is the best way to punish someone and give justice to those who have had loved ones taken from them.

The parent's of Gregg Smart said they hoped his wife Pamela would "live a very, very long time" after hearing she would be sentenced to a whole life in prison. And it doesn't sound like she's had it too easy inside either.

Myra Hindley was another who suffered a life prison sentence and apart from a handful of people that believed she had paid her debt to society, most took comfort in knowing that she was desperate to be free but never would be despite the bleeding heart apologists who fought for her undeserved freedom.

We need to ensure very severe penalties for those who kill - but the death penalty is not the answer.