/ What is the difference between life and death in prison?

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ByEek - on 18 Feb 2014
Whole life terms in the UK are legal apparently

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26236225

I am no fan of the death sentence but I do wonder what the difference between the death penalty and a whole of life sentence is.

Any thoughts?
Mike Stretford - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
You can let someone out of prison if a mistake were made at conviction, but you can't bring back the dead.

And you don't have to execute anyone, which is easier than having to.
Post edited at 13:34
crayefish - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

With a death penalty, if new evidence emerges that proves the person innocent, then it is rather more difficult to release them... alive!
Pete Dangerous - on 18 Feb 2014
Maybe lifers should be given the option to terminate themselves.

winhill - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

With the Death Penalty you don't have to queue for the showers.
ByEek - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:

A fair point, but there are some cases like the Rigby killers where it is pretty open and shut. If they get life in prison as young men, you have to wonder what they have to live for.
crayefish - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

> A fair point, but there are some cases like the Rigby killers where it is pretty open and shut. If they get life in prison as young men, you have to wonder what they have to live for.

Shower sex with Big Dave!
markh554 on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

> A fair point, but there are some cases like the Rigby killers where it is pretty open and shut. If they get life in prison as young men, you have to wonder what they have to live for.

Their twisted view of infamy and jihad. Death penalty = matyrdom for them. Keep them alive with X-Factor and Big Brother reruns on continuous loop and their eys wired open!
andrewmcleod - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
My thoughts are similar to yours; a whole-life sentence is basically a death sentence, just very slow. When we stop at least trying to believe that part of the purpose of prison is rehabilitation, then we have agreed that prison is a failure (which admittedly it largely is in this country).

In the vast majority of these cases, there is no real chance of any of these prisoners being released by a parole board. It is also rarely understood that life does mean life even for lower tariffs; you may be released on parole after 10, 20, 30 years etc., but you will never actually be 'free', and can be returned to prison at any time.

Contrary to what the Court of Appeal said, I believe the ECHR has already said that the current review procedure available to whole life tariff prisoners (compassionate release by the Secretary of State) is inadequate as it is a political, not judicial, decision.

The ECHR does not make binding judgements, and countries can ignore it (since no court has power over a sovereign nation); countries follow its rulings mostly because it is the right thing to do? We should encourage this to remain the case.

The ECHR has been very important in countries like Russia and Italy, where either the system is corrupt or so woefully inefficient that even when decisions have been made in someone's favour the state fails to enforce implementation. These countries do increasingly follow the decisions of the ECHR; if you live in one of these countries having the backup when your state fails is very important.

The vast majority of cases sent to the ECHR by UK citizens are not upheld, i.e. the they go in favour of the government (because while we may be living within the laws and mechanisms of a police state, no UK government has yet implemented it... yet...). So we don't really 'lose' anything by the ECHR (if you consider ensuring implementation of basic human rights 'lose'), but if we fail to obey the courts rulings, then other countries with much worse human rights standards will wonder why they are paying any attention either.

It is time to end 'one rule for us, another rule for everyone else' foreign policy...
Post edited at 14:16
Andy DB - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

I think we have had this discussion before. Although the physical evidence that the Rigby killer is overwhelming there may be mitigating circumstance such as mental illness or blackmail that are yet to come to light. If you have already executed them it's a bit hard to undo if further evidence becomes available.

Personally I don't think any state sanctioned killing is right and just drops us to the same level as the murders. Currently life imprisonment seems the most humane option while keeping dangerous people out of society.

As for life term prisoners killing themselves I'm sure any prisoner with half a brain is capable of doing this if the wish.
Pete Dangerous - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Andy DB:

> As for life term prisoners killing themselves I'm sure any prisoner with half a brain is capable of doing this if the wish.

They don't make it easy though. It should be an valid option to do it easily and painlessly. Anyone who attempts it is put on watch or put in a special ward/hospital.

Dan Arkle - on 18 Feb 2014
Sidestepping the ethical issues for a moment..

....whole life sentences are far better for the country as they end up being much cheaper. Also, the endless appeals, protests, pleas and pardons that come with death sentences are avoided, leaving our politicians and courts to concerntrate on matters which affect the public more.


1poundSOCKS - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod: Part of the role of prisons should be rehab, but a big part is the actual imprisonment itself. It keeps the more unsavoury types away from me (and my family, friends, and stuff), and away from you as well of course.

ByEek - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Andy DB:

I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. I suppose I am just putting myself in the killer's / jailed person's shoes. If I had a life term sentence hanging over my head, I do wonder what would motivate me to get up in the morning.
andrewmcleod - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Dan Arkle:

Do you have any figures for that? I found some figures suggesting ~30k/year for a prison place, but couldn't find estimated murder trial costs (the death penalty would potentially increase the number of appeals; the original trial should cost the same though).

Also I wonder how many criminals in prison for minor offences would get out of crime if offered a 20k/year job (under supervision of course) instead of paying 30k/year to keep them in the universities of crime? Just saying :P
thomasadixon - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> My thoughts are similar to yours; a whole-life sentence is basically a death sentence, just very slow. When we stop at least trying to believe that part of the purpose of prison is rehabilitation, then we have agreed that prison is a failure (which admittedly it largely is in this country).

Prison has more than one purpose. A major one is to prevent those inside it from committing further crimes. Another is to punish those who have done wrong. Both are well served by prisons - ignoring rehabilitation entirely.

> The vast majority of cases sent to the ECHR by UK citizens are not upheld, i.e. the they go in favour of the government (because while we may be living within the laws and mechanisms of a police state, no UK government has yet implemented it... yet...). So we don't really 'lose' anything by the ECHR (if you consider ensuring implementation of basic human rights 'lose'), but if we fail to obey the courts rulings, then other countries with much worse human rights standards will wonder why they are paying any attention either.

That most cases are not upheld shows nothing except that the UK generally complies with the rules. What we lose/have lost is the ability to make our own law, not a minor thing. We certainly don't lose nothing. The ECHR is made up of people, just like Parliament, just like other courts. It doesn't have a monopoly on the "right" answers and I don't believe we should comply with it because of some vague threat to citizens of other countries.
elsewhere on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

> I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. I suppose I am just putting myself in the killer's / jailed person's shoes. If I had a life term sentence hanging over my head, I do wonder what would motivate me to get up in the morning.

So life imprisonment can be a greater deterent than the death penalty.
JMGLondon - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Not exactly answering your question but an enlightening article on the costs of state execution.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/california-cost-study-2011

I've not had time to read the detail but California has spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since it was reinstated in 1978 (about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out (as of 2011))
elsewhere on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
> A fair point, but there are some cases like the Rigby killers where it is pretty open and shut. If they get life in prison as young men, you have to wonder what they have to live for.

Let them suffer in prison rather than give them what they want (martyrdom).
Andy DB - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

I think that is the problem with any ultimate sanction be that life imprisonment or death. Once some one has been sentenced to that they real don't have anything to loose. This probably isn't conducive to sensible rational behaviour.
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999thAndy on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Andy DB:

Depends on the prison, and if some prisons are nicer than others. Priveleges like having sole occupancy or a TV in your cell or even being in a "nicer" prison than a crumbling overcrowded Victorian jobby could all be used as carrots or sticks to reward or punish behaviour.
crayefish - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to mh554:

> Their twisted view of infamy and jihad. Death penalty = matyrdom for them. Keep them alive with X-Factor and Big Brother reruns on continuous loop and their eys wired open!

Don't forget the shopping channel!
FactorXXX - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Also I wonder how many criminals in prison for minor offences would get out of crime if offered a 20k/year job (under supervision of course) instead of paying 30k/year to keep them in the universities of crime? Just saying :P

Wouldn't that then have to be the minimum wage?
ByEek - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to elsewhere:

> So life imprisonment can be a greater deterent than the death penalty.

Sadly, I don't think the concept of a deterrent works in the minds of the individuals who commit these sort of crimes. I suppose you could argue that society is protected indefinitely, but at some cost.
jkarran - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Andy DB:

> I think that is the problem with any ultimate sanction be that life imprisonment or death. Once some one has been sentenced to that they real don't have anything to loose. This probably isn't conducive to sensible rational behaviour.

Except they do still have something to lose, they have a lot to lose, all the new things that matter to them in their new, rather smaller world. We're tough adaptable animals.

What's the difference between a life and death sentence? The decency of the society passing it and a glimmer of hope for the person receiving it.

Societies and their mores change, who knows, maybe in 40 or 50 years time we'll look back on the concept of whole life tariffs as a form of punishment (rather than societal protection) with horror and those serving them will have their cases reviewed. You only have to look at the changes that have occurred in the last 50 years to realise this isn't impossible. Equally in 50 years time some of those we revile today as terrorists could be freed as 'hero's of the great revolution'... Who knows what the future will bring.

jk
Antigua - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
Who knows what the laws will be in 5, 10, 20, 50 years time. They might get out?

Read a while ago that Ian Brady wants to die and has been on hunger strike to achieve that end. Just found out that the TPTB are force feeding him against his will to keep him alive.
Post edited at 17:04
Ridge - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> My thoughts are similar to yours; a whole-life sentence is basically a death sentence, just very slow. When we stop at least trying to believe that part of the purpose of prison is rehabilitation, then we have agreed that prison is a failure (which admittedly it largely is in this country).

Even if rehabilitation is a failure, the other purposes of prisons, punishment of the criminal, and protection of society, are met.

> In the vast majority of these cases, there is no real chance of any of these prisoners being released by a parole board. It is also rarely understood that life does mean life even for lower tariffs; you may be released on parole after 10, 20, 30 years etc., but you will never actually be 'free', and can be returned to prison at any time.

I don't think you can be returned on a whim. There has to be a breach of licence conditions, (in some cases this has been a further murder after release).

> Contrary to what the Court of Appeal said, I believe the ECHR has already said that the current review procedure available to whole life tariff prisoners (compassionate release by the Secretary of State) is inadequate as it is a political, not judicial, decision.

That doesn't mean the Court of Appeal is necessarily wrong in it's interpretation.

> The ECHR does not make binding judgements, and countries can ignore it (since no court has power over a sovereign nation); countries follow its rulings mostly because it is the right thing to do? We should encourage this to remain the case.

As said earlier, the rulings of the ECHR are not necessarily 'right'.
Timmd on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to FactorXXX:
> Also I wonder how many criminals in prison for minor offences would get out of crime if offered a 20k/year job (under supervision of course) instead of paying 30k/year to keep them in the universities of crime? Just saying :P

> Wouldn't that then have to be the minimum wage?

It would, but he possibly raises an interesting point about how best to change how things currently are.

I heard a business man on the radio who has a policy of employing people with criminal records, and he finds that they're very loyal as employees, and stick with his company for the long term, while he's doing something good for them as well.
Post edited at 19:45
FactorXXX - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Timmd:

It would, but he possibly raises an interesting point about how best to change how things currently are.

For someone under twenty on minimum wage, that would mean doubling their wage. Is that really achievable and sustainable?
Timmd on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to FactorXXX:
The idea of a definite job and wage for them to help keep them on the straight and narrow does, I mean.

One could ask why they should get something like that, but it could cost society less.
Post edited at 20:11
FactorXXX - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Timmd:

The idea of a definite job and wage for them to help keep them on the straight and narrow does, I mean.

Well, yes, 100% employment for the whole country is probably the ideal solution.
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to JMGLondon:

> Not exactly answering your question but an enlightening article on the costs of state execution.


> I've not had time to read the detail but California has spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment since it was reinstated in 1978 (about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out (as of 2011))

The cost of the death penalty in the US is always brought up as an argument against the death penalty. I'm not sure that it is a valid comparison with the UK judicial system, and there is no suggestion that a UK death penalty case would have any more trial process (the expensive part) attached to it than a normal case.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> The cost of the death penalty in the US is always brought up as an argument against the death penalty. I'm not sure that it is a valid comparison with the UK judicial system, and there is no suggestion that a UK death penalty case would have any more trial process (the expensive part) attached to it than a normal case.

There would be the usual appeals process which would obviously get taken to the highest level, then on top of that every proposed execution would go to the European courts were the UK gov would of course lose. Very expensive.
ByEek - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to elsewhere:

> Let them suffer in prison rather than give them what they want (martyrdom).

Trouble is, you aren't really allowed to let people suffer in prison these days. Many times I have heard that life outside prison for many is harder than life in prison. Taking responsibility for your own welfare when you have nothing is hard work. In prison, you don't have to worry about it.
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:

> There would be the usual appeals process which would obviously get taken to the highest level, then on top of that every proposed execution would go to the European courts were the UK gov would of course lose. Very expensive.

So the same proceedings as any other case then, and thus the same cost.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> So the same proceedings as any other case then, and thus the same cost.

No, the actual execution would be appealed against at the European courts and the UK gov would lose every time.
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:

> No, the actual execution would be appealed against at the European courts and the UK gov would lose every time.

There is obviously a legal argument about whether capital punishment would fit within European human rights law - and yes. It probably wouldn't, however that is an entirely separate argument to any financial one.

I suspect that, if it was introduced and the UK were still within European human rights court jurisdiction there would be one test case to determine the legitimacy of the sentence and then, if approved, the appeals process would be as normal for subsequent cases.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:
> I suspect that, if it was introduced and the UK were still within European human rights court jurisdiction there would be one test case to determine the legitimacy of the sentence and then, if approved, the appeals process would be as normal for subsequent cases.

No. Since the death sentence was abolished there will have been many laws introduced to UK and European law that could be used to appeal to actual execution and activities surrounding it.

You seem to be basing this argument on this assumption that a UK parliment could bring back the death penalty with no extra extra legal check.... you've really gone off into alternate reality there, problems with that is there are an infinite number of possibilities.
Post edited at 10:29
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:

> No. Since the death sentence was abolished there will have been many laws introduced to UK and European law that could be used to appeal to actual execution and activities surrounding it.

Perhaps you could elaborate. I'm only aware of the abolition of capital punishment act 1965, (which does what it says on the tin) and the Human Rights Act 1998 which also abolishes the death penalty and Protocol 13 of the European Convention of Human rights which is the Eurpoean convention banning the death penalty.
IT would be naive, if not in fact impossible, to legislate for capital punishment without addressing these laws.


> You seem to be basing this argument on this assumption that a UK parliment could bring back the death penalty with no extra extra legal check.... you've really gone off into alternate reality there, problems with that is there are an infinite number of possibilities.

My argument is simply that to suggest that the death penalty is too expensive based on the US legal system is also suggesting that in order to make a death penalty system work in the UK we would need to copy that system.
The two things don't go together. A death penalty system could be imposed as simply another sentencing option on our current system.

Timmd on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
> Trouble is, you aren't really allowed to let people suffer in prison these days. Many times I have heard that life outside prison for many is harder than life in prison. Taking responsibility for your own welfare when you have nothing is hard work. In prison, you don't have to worry about it.

When looking back on a lifetime, though, I wouldn't have thought many would be content with having spent much of it in prison?

Also, wtf about 'Trouble is...'. Is it not suffering to lose one's liberty and sense of autonomy?

Somebody I knew in my teens, I heard through a friend about him going to prison, and him having his jaw broken by a fellow inmate throwing a pool ball, so it's not always a bag of roses.
Post edited at 11:04
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Timmd on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:
> My argument is simply that to suggest that the death penalty is too expensive based on the US legal system is also suggesting that in order to make a death penalty system work in the UK we would need to copy that system.

> The two things don't go together. A death penalty system could be imposed as simply another sentencing option on our current system.

I wouldn't want to live in a society which had the death penalty.

In states where they have it in the US, statistically it doesn't deter people from committing murder, which makes it more a penalty of retribution.

In 100 years (say) when more is known about what goes on in the brain, I think people will look back and find it difficult to grasp that countries had the death penalty, they'll find it shocking given the knowledge they have, which we currently lack.
Post edited at 11:11
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Timmd:

> I wouldn't want to live in a society which had the death penalty.

Fair enough.

> In states where they have it in the US, statistically it doesn't deter people from committing murder, which makes it more a penalty of retribution.

Or punishment.

> In 100 years (say) when more is known about what goes on in the brain, I think people will look back and find it difficult to grasp that countries had the death penalty, they'll find it shocking given the knowledge they have, which we currently lack.

I'm not usre where you are going with this - I'm not convinced that crimes can be excused by suggesting that a person has been forced into committing them by an "imbalanced" mental system.
Of course by your argument it is also entirely possible that in 100 years time they will look back and say - "Why on earth did they waste time imprisoning people who there is absolutely no possibility of reforming or changing"
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> Perhaps you could elaborate. I'm only aware of the abolition of capital punishment act 1965, (which does what it says on the tin) and the Human Rights Act 1998 which also abolishes the death penalty and Protocol 13 of the European Convention of Human rights which is the Eurpoean convention banning the death penalty.

Ok, article 3 of the human rights act for a start, that would be used as the equivalent is in the US. The legal profession would have a field day.

> A death penalty system could be imposed as simply another sentencing option on our current system.

That is true, look at China, they don't mess about, and North Korea really cuts through the red tape apparently.

Getting back to sensible discussion, western democracies have all moved in a certain direction legally, to the point were most don't bother with the death penalty because it is more trouble than it is worth. Yes you can shut down further legal challenges at the point of law making but then the state becomes pretty draconian, and I suspect you know perfectly well that the UK has moved much further the other way since the abolition of the death penalty.
Timmd on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:
> Fair enough.

> Or punishment.

> I'm not usre where you are going with this - I'm not convinced that crimes can be excused by suggesting that a person has been forced into committing them by an "imbalanced" mental system.

There's a difference between an explanation for something, and an excuse for it. What I'm seeking to underline is that we still don't thoroughly know 'why', which given that we don't, to me this makes the taking somebody's life too big a step to take.

> Of course by your argument it is also entirely possible that in 100 years time they will look back and say - "Why on earth did they waste time imprisoning people who there is absolutely no possibility of reforming or changing"

Indeed, but shouldn't we leave it to them? It never seems to be scientists I hear advocating the death penalty.

I'm not comfortable that we know enough to be able to take another's life, or have another's life taken in our name.

Post edited at 11:31
ByEek - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Timmd:

> When looking back on a lifetime, though, I wouldn't have thought many would be content with having spent much of it in prison?

Agreed. But looking back on your life and regretting the decisions you made is quite a different prospect from making a conscious decision to commit murder based on the possible consequences. Either the consequences are never considered, are not feared or there is a belief that they will not be caught.
Timmd on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
> Agreed. But looking back on your life and regretting the decisions you made is quite a different prospect from making a conscious decision to commit murder based on the possible consequences. Either the consequences are never considered, are not feared or there is a belief that they will not be caught.

Or it isn't an entirely 'conscious decision'?

Go to the BBC listen again and look for All In The Mind and In The Mind of a Psychopath with Claudia Hammond, it's about a neuroscientist who finds that he has the same brain pattern of a psychopath, and it triggers him to look into his family tree where he finds he has many serial killers in his ancestors, and sets him wondering why he isn't a killer too.

Everybody who is in favour of the death penalty should listen to that, I think.

I'll not be replying further because I've got course work to do...
Post edited at 11:38
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:

> Ok, article 3 of the human rights act for a start, that would be used as the equivalent is in the US. The legal profession would have a field day.

This article does n ot prohibit a member state from imposing the death penalty within it's own jurisdiction.
There may indeed be a field day as the legality is debated - however, as to an extent with the whole-life tariff cases, once the legal position has been established then it becomes availbale as a sentencing option.

> That is true, look at China, they don't mess about, and North Korea really cuts through the red tape apparently.

Reductio ad absurdam, though amusing, deosn't really take your argument forward.

> Getting back to sensible discussion, western democracies have all moved in a certain direction legally, to the point were most don't bother with the death penalty because it is more trouble than it is worth. Yes you can shut down further legal challenges at the point of law making but then the state becomes pretty draconian, and I suspect you know perfectly well that the UK has moved much further the other way since the abolition of the death penalty.

Sensible discussion, as in - the establishment of the death penalty would OF COURSE require the amenement/removal of legislation that abolishes it, whether that is within the UK or as part of Europe.
Your suggestion of a myriad of laws that have sprung up to complicate nmatters has so far produced one irrelevant one. Undoubtedly if we had the death penalty within the ECHR framework (in some form) there would be a challenge to it's legality, but the suggestion that every single case would naturally and necessarily be challenged all the way does not follow.

Bear in mind I'm speaking hypothetically here, I am fairly ambivalent about the death penalty, but in my view the only strong arguments against it's imposition are moral ones, and every time I am feeling more of an abolitionist than pro-capital punishment a case comes along like Anwar Rosser and reminds me why the death penalty might just be a good thing.

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/media/judgments/2014/sentencing-remarks-coulson-j-r-v-rosser
(Warning - don't read the sentencing remarks if you don't want to read a farily detailed description of this horrific offence.)
ByEek - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Timmd:

Good point well made. Claudia Hammond does make some excellent programmes. I think that is the rub - that it doesn't really matter whether you impose life or death... neither is a deterrent. So I guess it only really boils down to how each is perceived by the lawful majority.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:
> Your suggestion of a myriad of laws that have sprung up to complicate nmatters has so far produced one irrelevant one.

It is relevant and would be used, as the equivalent is in the US. You have come up with this 'hypothetical' scenario were the first legal challenge would sail through the European courts.... even if things got that far it is very likely in our world that the UK govt would lose, adjust the law and try again ect. I'm sorry I'm not playing some silly game of naming a relevant law for you to dismiss off hand, when you can't even acknowledge the realities of humans rights and law in Western democracies.

To have cheap and quick execution you would have to make monumental changes which are clearly unrealistic in our society. The US is used as an example as it is the only comparable society with the death penalty.

Basically I disagree with your last statement, their are very strong pragmatic arguments against its use.......it's irreversible, very costly, and killing people is a messy business.
Post edited at 12:18
winhill - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Timmd:

> Go to the BBC listen again and look for All In The Mind and In The Mind of a Psychopath with Claudia Hammond, it's about a neuroscientist who finds that he has the same brain pattern of a psychopath, and it triggers him to look into his family tree where he finds he has many serial killers in his ancestors, and sets him wondering why he isn't a killer too.

> Everybody who is in favour of the death penalty should listen to that, I think.

Certainly anyone who is in favour of hanging anyone with the mind of psychopath could benefit, the rest of us, meh.

winhill - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:

> But looking back on your life and regretting the decisions you made is quite a different prospect from making a conscious decision to commit murder based on the possible consequences. Either the consequences are never considered, are not feared or there is a belief that they will not be caught.

But the consequences are severe enough and your chances of getting caught can be diminished, it makes killing your victim a rational thing to do.

This might explain why the murder rate is higher in countries with the death penalty - it actually makes life more dangerous.
Eric9Points - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:



> (Warning - don't read the sentencing remarks if you don't want to read a farily detailed description of this horrific offence.)

I wish I hadn't read that.
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:
> It is relevant and would be used, as the equivalent is in the US. You have come up with this 'hypothetical' scenario were the first legal challenge would sail through the European courts.... even if things got that far it is very likely in our world that the UK govt would lose, adjust the law and try again ect.

Article 3 has been used to prevent the extradition of a EU citizen to a country where they might receive the death penalty. It specifically does not prevent a member state from having the death penalty.


I'm sorry I'm not playing some silly game of naming a relevant law for you to dismiss off hand, when you can't even acknowledge the realities of humans rights and law in Western democracies.

If you don't know what legislation you seem to believe will prevent the death penalty but are just clinging to a belief that there are "lots of laws" that have "sprung up" that will be used, then there isn't a grwat deal of substance to your argument.

> To have cheap and quick execution you would have to make monumental changes which are clearly unrealistic in our society. The US is used as an example as it is the only comparable society with the death penalty.

Why would you need "monumental changes". There are clearly some specific pieces of legislation (abolishing the death penalty) that would need to be addressed, and clearly the relationship between the UK and the ECHR would need to be considered.
I agree that the US is a comparable society - however the whole point of a comparison is that you examine it to see what is the same and what is deifferent. In the case of death penalty cases they have a number of steps that we do not have, as well as having a number of different approaches to the law from the UK. The comparison - in terms of financial costs - does not hold particularly true.

> Basically I disagree with your last statement, their are very strong pragmatic arguments against its use.......it's irreversible, very costly, and killing people is a messy business.

Irreversibility isn't really an argument - unless what you are suggesting is that the UK courts get it wrong sufficiently often in this type of case that we would be executing far too many innocent people. ( Where "sufficiently often" and "far too many" are arguable points - but essentially come down to one's moral position)

Very costly - this is the argument I have tried to address.

Messy business - Unpleasant certainly, but again is it "nicer" to imprison someone until they die with no hope of parole or release?
Post edited at 13:17
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Eric9Points:

> I wish I hadn't read that.

Sorry. Hence the warning. :-(
ByEek - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to winhill:

> This might explain why the murder rate is higher in countries with the death penalty - it actually makes life more dangerous.

I don't think you can draw any hard and fast conclusions on the murder rate based on the potential punishment. If you take the US, they have an accepted gun culture. There is also a disproportionate number of black men on death-row which indicates a failing in their justice system too.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> Article 3 has been used to prevent the extradition of a EU citizen to a country where they might receive the death penalty. It specifically does not prevent a member state from having the death penalty.

It prevents torture and it's equivalent has been used in the US. Any method with any risk of pain can be argued to be torture. From your previous posting on UKC I didn't think I'd have to explain that.

> I agree that the US is a comparable society - however the whole point of a comparison is that you examine it to see what is the same and what is deifferent. In the case of death penalty cases they have a number of steps that we do not have

Yes, because they have the death penalty!!!
off-duty - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Papillon:

> It prevents torture and it's equivalent has been used in the US. Any method with any risk of pain can be argued to be torture. From your previous posting on UKC I didn't think I'd have to explain that.


Soering v the UK establishes that Article 3 does not prevent the death penalty per se. As I have previously said Article 3 has no bearing on whether a member state wants to have the death penalty.

> I agree that the US is a comparable society - however the whole point of a comparison is that you examine it to see what is the same and what is deifferent. In the case of death penalty cases they have a number of steps that we do not have

> Yes, because they have the death penalty!!!

IF you want to impose a complicated legal system - eg "double" trials for deciding sentence in capital cases and various other intricacies of the US legal system, in order to introduce the death penalty then that is entirely up to you.
None of these steps are in any way essential for the imposition of the death penalty as an alternative sentence within the system that we currently operate.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> Soering v the UK establishes that Article 3 does not prevent the death penalty per se.

However it does in practice prevent it

http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/dignity/Soering.html


> IF you want to impose a complicated legal system - eg "double" trials for deciding sentence in capital cases and various other intricacies of the US legal system, in order to introduce the death penalty then that is entirely up to you.

> None of these steps are in any way essential for the imposition of the death penalty as an alternative sentence within the system that we currently operate.

I'm sorry but if you think that in today's UK we could simply slip the death penalty in, you are either being insincere or very naive. I'm tempted to think the former. I'm sure you are aware of case which were later re-opened after unsuccessful appeals (Stefan Kiszko).
Ridge - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to Eric9Points:

> I wish I hadn't read that.

Extremely unpleasant reading. Other than the horrific nature of the crime, two things stood out for me. Firstly the clarity of the Judges arguments for imposing a whole life term. Secondly, whilst I accept the arguments against the death penalty in case of a miscarriage of Justice, there can be no coherent argument whatsoever for allowing the person convicted in this case to ever be released.
Mike Stretford - on 19 Feb 2014
In reply to off-duty:

ok , I shouldn't have 'insincere or naive', I'm just suprised you think the death penalty can be slipped in. We'll have to agree to disagree.

> Messy business - Unpleasant certainly, but again is it "nicer" to imprison someone until they die with no hope of parole or release?

It's not that I think it's unpleasant, I'm ok with people who commit abhorrent crimes to have unpleasant endings, and I'm ok for them to face life without parole. What I mean is it is a difficult thing to organise in this day and age, as we see in the US. On the one hand they try and avoid 'cruel' punishment but on the other hand they have to try and avoid 'painless'. You can't get medical staff involved, so there's a high risk of a botched procedure. It's a magnet for media who will be critical of what the state is doing, while in some circumstances giving the perpetrator the recognition they crave. It's a lot less hassle, and as you point out, equal punishment to lock them up for good.
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Jim Fraser - on 19 Feb 2014
ByEek - on 20 Feb 2014
In reply to Jim Fraser:

I don't disagree for a second. Just crying to square the concept of being put do death or being held against your will for the rest of your life. To me, there is little difference. To live is to be free, or at least have the prospect of being free.
Al Evans on 20 Feb 2014
In reply to ByEek:
Leslie Grantham (Dirty Den) was convicted of murdering a taxi driver before being released and becoming an actor. I'm not going to argue the intricasies of his parole, but I do think it is sick that whenever he appears in a starring role on TV his victims family must be reminded off the loss of their loved one at his hands.
Post edited at 09:59
GrahamD - on 20 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> My thoughts are similar to yours; a whole-life sentence is basically a death sentence, just very slow.

This is incorrect. A prisoner has a life, albeit with drastically curtailed freedoms. Its still a life to do with as best they can.

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