Although capital punishment has been abolished in the UK since 1965, some people still firmly believe that it should be brought back. In many countries, the death penalty is still enforced, although it has been scientifically proven that the death penalty does not have a greater effect on the reduction of homicides than life imprisonment.
In the 18th century, the death penalty was never applied as widely as the law provided, due to procedures adopted to moderate the harshness of the law. Many offenders who committed capital crimes were pardoned, usually on the condition that they agreed to de transported to America. In the early 1900s, the death penalty was scarcely used. The parliamentary system for capital punishment created dissatisfaction as it led to some executions that the public viewed as unjustified, while other types of murder escaped the death penalty because of the method used to commit the crime. In particular, prisoners were not subject to the death penalty but if a gun was used the person would be liable to execution.
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The main arguments for capital punishment being brought back are the deterrence theory, stating that the potential murderer would think twice before victimizing a person if he knew he would die if he were to be caught. The protection idea states that a convicted murderer would be set free after a life sentence of 15 years and go on to murder again. The last and most cold-blooded is that it makes economic sense to execute the murderer rather than be in prison wasting taxpayers’ money.
A survey conducted for the UN in 1996 on the death penalty and homicide rates concluded:
“Research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent rate than life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming. The evidence as a whole still gives no positive support to the deterrent hypothesis…”
In Britain, 1903 was the record year for executions and yet in 1904 the number of homicides actually rose. 1941 saw an unusually high number of executions followed in 1947 by another rise in the murder rate. If the deterrence theory was correct then it should have fallen. Although in Canada the murder rate went down after the abolition of the death penalty deterrence means it should have risen.
There is a risk with criminals, no matter what crime they commit that they will go on to commit again, but after spending time in prison, there is only a small minority will go on to commit again with the majority not committing murder again.
As for murders wasting taxpayers’ money, the cost of someone going on death row dramatically outweighs the cost for one person to stay in prison. The cost to stay on death row, legal appeals etc. all adds up dramatically.
The second main argument against the re-introduction is that innocent people get wrongly accused and although you can release someone from prison you can’t bring them back from the dead. The only posthumous pardon in British legal history was given to Timothy Evans in 1950 when it was proved that Christie had committed the murders Evens had been hanged for. Christie was later hanged in 1953. Recently there have been several cases where people have been released from prison several years later after it was proven that they did not commit the murders they were accused of. If capital punishment was still enforced, the likelihood of the convicted being sentenced on death row is probable and would mean they wouldn’t be able to be released.
My personal view is that capital punishment should not be brought back in the UK because murder is murder, including the death penalty. I find it hypocritical and ironic of the government to kill someone for his or her actions of killing another human being. A country or state should set an example to society by not condemning the murder, which is what they set out to prove. Many murder intentions are due to sociological problems that need to be dealt with in a more acceptable manner.
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