Is Capital Punishment, otherwise known as the Death Penalty, a disgraceful and unjust way to kill a fellow Human being? Or is it a justifiable way to punish someone in a modern day society? Some nations use the Death Penalty as their most severe punishment. Capital Punishment is one of the most debated issues in current day life. Is it acceptable or not? Many politicians have put their arguments across highlighting both their benefits and drawbacks.
In the past people in Britain were often executed by hanging or by having their heads severed. But nowadays very few countries allow the Death Penalty. In fact, it follows the abolition of the death penalty for treason and piracy in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act and is part of a global trend which has made massive strides in recent years. Criminals are executed via lethal injection or electric chair. Some say this is a less painful and more 'humane' way of killing. But others argue against it.
The Death Penalty existed for centuries for crimes such as: theft and treason, to crimes like murder and rape. Until 1808 execution was an 'entertainment' for the public until reforms were introduced to the English Parliament to banish the Death Penalty for more than 200 crimes including; being in the company of Gypsies for more than one month and "strong evidence of malice" in children aged between 7-14. Hundreds of similar crimes were also down graded; these offences were registered under the 'Bloody Code'.
Sir Robert Peel reduced Capital Punishment crimes to just four: murder; treason; arson in royal dockyards; and piracy with violence. Public executions were abolished in 1868, and in the 1970s beheading, hanging and quartering of traitors were all eliminated. Less than one century later, Parliament voted to suspend for five years the death penalty for murder, when it passed Sidney Silverman's private members bill in 1965.
A Conservative vote in 1938 called for legislation to halt hanging for a period of five-years. It never lasted; and due to the beginning of World War Two it was postponed. In 1957 the compromise legislation - The Homicide Act - followed by a public flare-up over the hanging of the following three individuals: Timothy Evans in 1950, Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis, the last women to be a victim of the Death Penalty in 1955.
The Homicide Act created a number of anomalies: They found theft a punishable crime, whereas rape was over looked, placing property in a higher position than human welfare. Due to these anomalies the use of Capital Punishment declined. There were only two convictions in each year of: 1962; 1963; and 1964. The last capital punishment conviction that took place in Britain was of two young people: Peter Anthony Allen, aged 21 and Gwynne Owen Evans, aged 24. They both were accused on killing John Alan West, a milkman.
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The Death Penalty was completely abolished after another vote in the House of Commons, which led to an eradication of the Death Penalty. Since the death penalty was truly abolished, there have been 13 attempts to bring back the death penalty for various categories of murder since 1969. The latest of which was carried out in 1994. All 13 bills were refused and the law remained the same.
The law in this country doesn't allow criminals to be executed. The most severe sentencing a person can receive is a double life sentence, which consists of 40 years imprisonment. No country in Europe allows the death penalty. However, looking at this from a more global perspective, other places such as countries in the Middle East exercise Capital Punishment. Criminals who have committed murder have their life taken as a result of their brutal act. They also sever limbs such as the left hand when criminals are caught stealing and if they steal again the right hand is also amputated. Their judicial system is based upon religious teachings, thus carried out with accuracy and great care. Texas in South-Central America also has the death penalty for murderers.
Looking at the first of my two sources, the article "Why I'd Gladly Hang Huntley" was published in The Daily Mail, a right winged paper on Thursday December 18th 2003. The article was written by Simon Heffer and is pro death penalty. Heffer chooses his medium of output very carefully. The media is a very powerful tool. People mostly always believe what the papers have to say especially as it is a tabloid. More people would read this as it is a tabloid and tabloids are generally more informal and gossipy. Instead of taking his story to a left winged broadsheet such as The Guardian, he chooses to take it to The Daily Mail a right winged paper where he knows it will be read by a lot more of the population. The article is Heffer's own personal view on the death penalty and how it might have prevented the Soham murders.
Immediately by reading the title you would instantly know this article is against Ian Huntley and for capital punishment.
The title reads:
"WHY I'D GLADLY HANG HUNTLEY."
He does this to capture the readers' attention and invites them to read on further. The title is very bias as he could have simply wrote a statement saying "Why hang Huntley" but he chose to put in "I" and "gladly" this shows that he personally wants Huntley dead. Heffer says he'd do it without any trouble, he would gladly hang him. This clearly indicates Heffer doesn't hold back on his feelings.
The image under the title is of a noose and paints a thousand words, which are very striking. The noose was previously used to hang people with. Without reading the article, the picture builds an image in the viewers mind. Some would say that it is a very bias image; he sways the readers towards what he is trying to say, simply by using a picture of a noose.
Heffer believes that Huntley should have been executed and explains that it would have been less costly and more justifiable. We, the public are paying to support him via our taxes; warmth, water, security, food cooked by a specialist chef, Sky Digital television, personal gym. All this is coming out of our hard earned money some would say this a life of luxury for him in return of what? The tragic murder of two little innocent girls. He doesn't deserve this. He should be locked away in a prison cell and have the key thrown in the ocean with a rock tied to it. Behind bars for life. His life may become unbearable but at least he has got a life unlike Holly and Jessica.
Heffer accuses society for being more concerned with the criminals rather than the victims.
"As this is the way with the liberal society, his welfare and well- being will undoubtedly be the subject of far more concern than those of Jessica and Holly's family"
This is true to a great extent, public get too wrapped up with the criminal that they forget to pay attention to the victims. They cannot fully empathize with what suffering and pain the victims are going through. Heffer refers to this point again later on in the article.
"…sadly, it will happen again. And it will happen again because our rulers systematically put the rights of criminals above the rights of their victims and the victims' families"
This is saying that the public might even feel for them but without the law changing it wont make a difference to anyone.
Heffer refers to Huntley by writing in his article:
"After his sick, vicious act of cruelty, that he does not deserve to live. There is quite simply no reason to keep Huntley alive."
A murderer like him does not deserve to live. On top of that he is getting expensive treatment. Is this justice? Changes do need to be made in our legal system to protect the victims not the guilty.
One of the most common arguments against the Death Penalty is that an innocent man or woman may be executed and have their freedom and life stolen for a crime that they did not commit. A well-known example would be that of David Gale. This true story indicates innocent people may be executed. Dr David Gale was a well-respected trustworthy and honourable man amongst his society. He was a lecturer at Harvard University and one of the main members of Death Watch, a group that strongly opposed Capital Punishment; they believe it is a brutal, vicious and sadistic way to kill a fellow human being. Everything fell apart for David Gale when he was falsely accused of raping one of his students. His respect was stolen. He was not able to see his son. His wife divorced him. He did not have a viable reason to live and he turned to alcohol for comfort and to help him drown his sorrows. Yes, like everything else, the system has weaknesses but these are overcome by the great benefits derived from Capital Punishment.
David Gale wanted to prove that innocent people were convicted and given the death penalty under the act of Capital Punishment. His Death Watch colleague, Constance who was about to die from leukaemia committed suicide. David and Constance set the death up so that it would look like David brutally raped then murdered Constance in a horrifying inhumane way, with all the evidence pointing towards David, an innocent man. They did this to prove the system does wrongly convict and kill innocent men and women. Constance was going to die anyway why not die in the path of something she was deeply compassionate about?
David was convicted. After his conviction and sentencing strong evidence was found on tape in his favour, by a reporter named Bitsey, this proved that he was definately innocent but robbed of his freedom. David made a point when he was wrongly executed. It proved Capital Punishment can and will kill innocent people. In fact, one could say the system actually does work. I make this point as the murder was setup like a real-life scenario hence David was accused and sentenced. Surely if the murder was real then the real criminal would have been sentenced in similar fashion.
Gandhi said that:
"AN EYE FOR AN EYE WILL MAKE US ALL BLIND."
This means if we all kill each other no one live and if we all go after getting revenge justice will never prevail we will live in a society where killing will become acceptable and no one will have piece of mind.
If the British people know that they will be executed if they kill a fellow human being then they will think twice about it. At present if they kill a person they might get a couple of decades in jail. They also receive free food, free water, an easy ride, no money problems to worry about, no family to support, the only down pointer is that they wont have their freedom. All at the tax-payers expense might I add. Just as Ian Huntley if we would have known that he would have gone to jail he would have thought twice. The death penalty would have deterred him from committing such a horrendous crime from the onset.
Looking at both sides of the argument I believe that the current law is correct. Capital punishment may be easy and less expensive, but if they remain in jail for life they will suffer every second. When they want to have a bite to eat they will suffer, in prison they have set times for meals. When they want to see there children’s faces they will suffer. When they want to see their friends they will suffer. When they want to watch a movie they will suffer. When they want entertainment they will suffer. When they want to see a friendly face they will suffer. When they want to have luxuries they will suffer. When they want see their children grow up they will suffer. When the want to be free they will suffer.