My initial interest in this subject started when I was in my last year at school where I had to find a captivating topic for my English Oral Exam. My mum told me about the case of Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig whom in the course of a burglary, murdered a police officer. Bentley was tried under 'joint enterprise' and found guilty even though it was Craig who pulled the trigger. It took 45 years for Bentley to win a posthumous pardon but in my opinion it was 45 years too late.

I have researched and read a lot about the death penalty over the years and during a psychology and criminology course I studied, I wrote an article that had to give both sides of the story. Now, as this is MY blog, I can give my own opinion of this subject and may even throw in a few facts for you!

Firstly, I want to make it clear that I know there are people in this world who commit the most sickening, despicable crimes. I know that some of these people are unable to help themselves in regards to re-offending and I am of the opinion that sex offenders, child molesters and murderers should not walk our streets. I, however, do not believe that any person should be murdered by the Government. Obviously, in the UK the death penalty has been abolished and the last hangings took place in 1964 although it remained in statute until as late as 1998. So this does not directly effect us daily.

Sadly, the rest of the world have not seen fit to follow in our footsteps and abolish capital punishment worldwide. And many people would like to see the re-introduction of capital punishment.

When continuing with my opinions, I will mainly refer to the USA as this is the country I tend to look at when I look for facts and stories.

As I write, there are hundreds of people, men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, facing death on any number of the death row institutions in America. These people are human beings, some have committed acts so atrocious, I would not even want to write about them. But for a minute, lets look at those who are innocent.

There are so many cases I have read, where the evidence itself, let alone the inmate, scream out 'innocence'. I am not saying that every person on death row is innocent. But I am saying that there are many who are. How many people have to be put to death and pardoned post humously, before the government realise that legislation needs to be changed.

I read a book about a man who was on death row for over 23 years. Admittedly, he was involved in some unsavoury dealings but he was not a muderer. 23 years after he was sentenced, and after times of him thinking 'just kill me' this man was pardoned. He had not committed any murder whatsoever. How do we justify this time spent behind bars? What if he had been put to death? Can we really take the chance of killing someone? I do not think so.

Another man who is currently on death row is accused of shooting dead a police officer. At the time of the offenders apprehension, the police officer, radioed in that the suspect had been apprehended and was handcuffed inside the police vehicle. So how does a handcuffed man (cuffed behind his back) shoot a policeman at point blank range from inside a vehicle? He can't, yet this man is on death row awaiting death for something he did not do.

It is bad enough being locked up for years upon years with no chance of freedom but to sit waiting to die is totally unacceptable.

People claim that putting offenders to death rids the world of the problem. But it doesn't. We all raised by parents, some of us raise our own children. So do these so called 'scum of society'. Take a man, guilty as charged, waiting to die, having to say goodbye to his loved ones. No pity there right? You may be surprised to know, I agree. But what about the loved ones? Why do they have to suffer the same feelings as the original victims family? It just continues the cycle of murder whatever way you look at it. These innocent family members have to watch as a loved one is strapped to a gurney and injected with chemicals that will stop his/her heart. But contrary to popular belief, this is not a quick or painless death, it is a slow and painful death. And some may say the offender deserves to suffer, but do you think the family of the offender also needs to suffer? I do not.

There are many victims families who feel that even though they have lost a loved one that they do not want the circle of murder to continue. And that is exactly what an execution is, a murder or as they say in America, homicide. The official verdict of death recorded on the certificate reads homicide.

So although the offender has been put to death for murder, the government then say 'it is okay to murder'. They do not need to say these words out loud because just by executing someone, they are contradicting themselves. Something I will always believe.

Conditions on death row are harsh. The prison staff are mainly brutal. Sure they have a hard job, dealing with dangerous people every day but many of them are power crazy, bully boys who enjoy seeing the pain and suffering of the people they are meant to be protecting. The book I previously mentioned lists the abuse that occurs at the hands of the guards and reading it, I felt sick to my stomach. Some will again say that the offender deserves all he gets. But to be honest, when that offender attended court and was found guilty and sentenced to death, that there in itself was his punishment. There does not need to follow, years and years of abuse before the famous 'walk' begins. It is illegal, it is barbaric and it to me, itis sickening.

People have often asked me to put myself in the position of a mother whose child has been raped and murdered by someone. They say to me surely you would want that person to die. No I would not. I would want them locked up for life. But life meaning life. No second chances, no chance to come out and ruin any more lives. That is what is wrong with this country, we are too soft. Legislation and new statutes need to be introduced so that the most heinous criminals, once found guilty, have no chance of being released into society. We need special institutions for sex offenders because they have an illness. It may surprise you to know that some, hate what they are and what they do and some have killed themselves to stop them committing acts. I make no excuses for them, because I myself, find these acts despicable and I truly believe they need to be put away forever but I will never justify the killing of a person under any circumstance.

I often ask people how they would feel, if a member of their family committed a murder or went on a killing spree? No matter what, would you sit back and let your loved one be killed? And if they were, would you ever truly get over it? And do you honestly think that the victims family will feel any better?

This subject is so contraversial and causes many a point to be raised, some I have covered above but you also have to look at mental illness, the age of criminal responsibility, the Law of Parties (joint enterprise) and also the fact that it costs more to put a person to death, than it does to house them for life. I could talk about this subject for a lot longer but I have made a few points in what I hope is a clear and concise manner. Plus it leaves me another chance to write some more another time ;-)

Until next time, stay safe and I will leave you with one last thought.......

An eye for an eye makes the world blind - Ghandi.
Friday 30th July 2010