Discuss the arguments for and against the re-introduction of the death penalty in the UK for crimes of murder.
Capital punishment is the act of executing somebody as a punishment for a crime that they have committed. Despite being around since the eighteenth century B.C, the death penalty was abolished in 1965 in the United Kingdom. Since then there has been a large amount of controversy and debate surrounding the matter, with some people wishing for capital punishment to be reintroduced for crimes of murder; this essay will review some of the arguments. Since the abolition of capital punishment on 9th November 1965, there has been a significant increase in the rate of homicide in the United Kingdom. In 1965 the murder rate was approximately 6.8 per million of the population, and by 2002 this figure had more than doubled to 16.6 per million of the population, suggesting that capital punishment may have been a good form of punishment. In addition to these figures, it turns out most of the population believe the death penalty should be brought back. From a poll conducted in August 2002, 59% of people said that it should be reintroduced, with just 34% disagreeing. Ipsos MORI, the second largest market research company in the United Kingdom, have asked people on four different occasions over the past 24 years whether they believe the death penalty should be reintroduced; they consistently concluded that at least three quarters of the respondents thought that the death penalty could sometimes be justified. With murder levels being high and the public opinion on the matter static, this is a reason that the government should reconsider their policy on capital punishment in the United Kingdom.
Despite the statistics, many people believe that murderers should be rehabilitated and learn from their mistakes as opposed to just being killed. This is mainly because they believe that human life is valuable, and no matter the crime a criminal should not be murdered as punishment. Without the possibility of rehabilitation and reconciliation, it is unlikely that a solution will ever be found for murder. Capital punishment promotes a simple response to a complex issue, when in reality it should be researched and explained in an attempt to introduce positive strategies against crime.
The case of 13 year old ‘George’ could be seen as evidence towards this argument. In 1976 George, which is not the boy’s real name, battered an elderly woman to death to steal her money for fireworks; He was sentenced to the junior equivalent of a life sentence. Unlike other young murderers since, George’s true identity was not revealed. At 18, George was transferred to a prison where he stayed with other teenage criminals that had committed serious crimes, and after much deliberating and consultations was granted access to an old people’s home to work. At the home George was loved by the residents, and even organised charity events for them to participate in. None of them knew of the crime he had committed, and they were all happy that he was around. This is all undeniable proof that capital punishment is not always the best answer, and that rehabilitation is possible.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that ‘To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, it is not justice.’ This mirrors the opinion of many, signifying that when somebody is murdered as a punishment it will only bring revenge, which is not what the aim should be. Capital punishment reinforces the ‘eye for an eye’ mentality, though some would suggest that in order for civilization to advance that mentality needs to be changed. It can also be about setting the right example for society and showing them that revenge only ever makes matters worse, and that it is hypocritical for the state to kill somebody because they killed somebody else.
John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist who was not afraid of death. He was executed by a lethal injection, which was...
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