Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why do we have to accept this?

From the parents of murdered teenager Hannah Foster.

Mr Foster said: "We cannot accept how a complete stranger can abduct, rape and murder your teenage daughter – still a child in the eyes of the law - and yet not end his days in prison."

I can't accept it either. I'd go further and say that he should not just end his days in prison - but his life should end very soon too. The death penalty should be reinstated for such crimes. I've listened to all the arguments about how the death penalty has no place in "civilised society" - but they just don't hold water. Does the abduction, rape and murder have a place in civilised society?

Of course not, but it is obvious to anyone that the current punishment for such crimes has no deterrent effect. Worse still, if the only difference between abduction and rape of a teenager and abduction, rape and murder of a teenager is an extra seven years or so in prison then that actually encourages people to go all the way and murder their victim doesn't it? With the victim unable to testify it increases their chance of avoiding capture. If they are caught - well, it's just a few more years behind bars. So what?

If the difference was more severe - for example, if life actually meant life or, better still, the death penalty then they'd be less inclined to murder the victim. It's a big difference between spending 15 years in jail and spending 60 years in jail - or dangling lifeless from a rope - and that might just make criminals like Hannah's murderer stop and think.

We gave up the death sentence on the promise that a life sentence would mean a lifetime in prison for the criminal. That promise was broken a long time ago. We gave up the death sentence on the assurance that prison was sufficient deterrent, but that has been proven to be a lie.

We gave up the death sentence because we were told it was all too easy to get it wrong and sentence an innocent person to death - though very few actually were - but far more innocent people die since we stopped hanging murderers and with advances in forensic science, establishing the identity of a murderer is a much more certain process.

Surely we have reached a point where we should now say that a death sentence for murderers whose guilt is proven beyond any doubt should be mandatory and that a life sentence should mean life for all other murderers is the right thing to do?

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