Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 5 August 2011

Petition to retain the ban on Capital Punishment

I support the principle that capital punishment, which in plain language is judicial killing by the State, is wrong in all circumstances. The State should not be in the business of executing people. Crimes for which people are convicted according to law do require punishment - that punishment should be strict, but humane. Some will argue that persons convicted of certain particularly heinous crimes (wilful murder, torture, rape to take a few) deserve no compassion and no rights. I don't necessarily disagree with either argument, but it is not the 'immortal soul' (if such exists) of the convicted person which concerns me, rather what it says about the societies and people who sanction judicial killing. Do we really wish to liken ourselves not just to the US's of this world, but to the Irans and Chinas, too?

A number of people convicted of murder in recent years have had their convictions overturned; in some cases they have been exonerated completely and in other cases new evidence has come to light which has cast sufficient doubt upon the original conviction for it to have been suspect. Were investigative processes always completely accurate during the period when capital punishment was still in force? Forgive me, but I simply do not believe it. What is completely certain, however, is that once someone has been executed, the punishment (as distinct from the conviction) can never be retracted.

I do believe, however, that a term of punishment should be observed strictly - a sentence of 'life imprisonment' should mean precisely that. There should be no parole, ever, under any circumstances, unless new evidence comes to light casting doubt upon the original conviction. So someone suffering from a terminal illness and who was serving a term of life imprisonment would die in prison - there should be no nonsense about allowing someone home to die.

It is on this basis that I have signed the e-Petition for the retention of the ban on captial punishment. If you share this basic view and if you wish you can sign the petition here.

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