Should capital punishment return

This is the face of Ruth Ellis.

On Wednesday July 13th 1955, Ruth secured her place in history as the last woman to be executed in Britain.Since ancient times, capital punishment has been used for a wide variety of offences – murder, rape, arson, burglary, larceny and treason. Venezuela (1853) and Portugal (1867) were the first nations to abolish the death penalty altogether, and Michigan; USA (1847) was the first state to abolish it for murder. It is virtually abolished all over Western Europe and most of Latin America. Reform of the death penalty began in Europe in the 1750s. America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East (except Israel) still retain the death penalty for certain crimes. New York claim great success by using “Zero Tolerance” policing policies, but in Britain it has no effect.

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So, would we live in a happier atmosphere and would we be friendlier towards other citizens if capital punishment is restored?Well it is a certainty that genuinely innocent people will be executed and there will be no possible way of compensating this miscarriage of justice. There is DNA testing; fibers, hair, blood, etc. can be matched, which would prove a person of his innocence. Execution would permanently remove the worst criminals from society. It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crime.

Nobody knows the true aspect of what happened, especially in a murder case. The only ones who can tell the tale are the accused and the deceased. Easier divorce has greatly reduced the number of domestic murders. So what do we do with these “EVIL” people who persist in committing crime? Do we imprison them for life without parole or execute them?Execution is a gruesome and terrifying ordeal for the criminal. Criminals are real people too.

They have life, they feel pain, fear the loss of loved ones and they have all the emotions the rest of us have. But execution is a real punishment rather than some form of “rehabilitative” treatment. We could spend our (limited) resources on the old, young, sick, homeless, etc. rather than the long term imprisonment of criminals. The cost to society for keeping people in prison is 500.per week for an ordinary prisoner. This is around 375,000 for a typical 15 years life sentence.The innocent family and friends of the criminal must go through hell.

It would be difficult for them to come to terms with the fact that their loved one has been found guilty of a serious crime, and even more difficult to come to terms with their execution. They must suffer serious trauma for years after.But if the criminal knew that to carry out an unlawful act could result in pain, misery, grief and suffering for their loved ones, and pain, suffering and death to oneself, why would they carry out the act?It is apparently socially acceptable to be “sentenced to death” by a family doctor without having committed any crime at all, but totally unacceptable to be sentenced to death by a judge. It’s unjustified.

We have to suffer when we are dying a slow death, even innocent people, but criminals live a life of luxury after committing serious crime, and then die when “their time is up.”Our membership of the EU and commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights, secures our society from execution returning. We would need to seriously think about the return of capital punishment, to try to decrease crime rapidly. In USA, 598 executions were carried out from 1977 – end 1999. Texas accounts for 199 (33%).

In Britain, since the death penalty was abolished, 1964 – 1998, murder rate more than doubled (around 750 per annum). According to Home Office statistics, 71 murders are committed by people who have been released after serving “life sentences”.Statistics were kept for five years after capital punishment was suspended (1965 – 1970). These show a 125% rise in murders. These criminals would have been sentenced to death.Two wrongs don’t make one right, but one wrong isn’t being punished at the maximum penalty to date.

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