3:23  |  6 December 11
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Chamber of Debate

CRIME - death penalty

Serial killer Steve Wright will die behind bars for killing five prostitutes, a judge ruled on 22 February 2008.

How much would that cost the taxpayer?

Do people who kill for fun deserve to die?

Is there any point at all in keeping these people alive at the expense of the taxpayer when Britain's prisons are already so over-crowded that prisoners are being released early to make way for more recent convicts?

"A life for a life, a limb for a limb, an eye for an eye" is an argument for proportionality and justice. Should we heed this injunction, or are we too blinded by liberal hand-wringing that we can no longer see the virtue of condign punishment or the moral validity of an effective deterrent?

The possibility of a miscarriage of justice and a wrongful conviction exists, of course. However, it could be argued that a criminal who is insufficiently deterred and inadequately punished is also a miscarriage of justice.

An opponent of the death penalty once said: "It is better that a hundred guilty men should go free than a single innocent man be wrongfully convicted."

Better? For whom?
Vote: Should the death penalty be re-introduced in some form, eg for the worst cases of murder?

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Members Comments

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underyourfeet 29-Mar-2010 16:43
I used to be in favour of the death penalty, if you could be 100% sure then yes hang them, however there have been two many miscarriages so just bang them up for life until they die, at least then if you have got the wrong man / woman you can say sorry.
1in10 12-Mar-2010 21:44
Surely Jon Venables proves the necessity for capital punishment?
Greengorilla 8-Jan-2010 16:41
reunion 8-Nov-2009 16:8
If those who carry out terrible deeds the penalty should remain.
estivboy 22-Oct-2009 11:44
Part of the question above in initiating this debate says "Is there any point at all in keeping these people alive at the expense of the taxpayer when Britain's prisons are already so over-crowded that prisoners are being released early to make way for more recent convicts?"
Obviously prisoners get released early from all sorts of reasons, though that's not going to be my point. A large part of the pro arguments for the death penalty make reference to the cost. Well unfortunately you are all wrong. In the USA the average time on Death Row is 10.26 years. See http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/drowfacts.htm

In fact it's not uncommon to be on Death Row for over 20 years. "Moreover, unlike general-population prisoners, even in solitary confinement, death-row inmates live in a state of constant uncertainty over when they will be executed. For some death row inmates, this isolation and anxiety results in a sharp deterioration in their mental status". See

I'm not going to do your research for you but I think you'll find that with all the lengthy legal processes, appeals and increased staff to guard the prisoners in their fragile mental states, (hey can't have them killing themselves before we get a chance) it is in fact a lot MORE expensive to execute someone than put them in with the general prisoner population.

Andromeda attacks Scamp and implies that he/she has no imagination and would change their tune if they knew someone who had been killed, (try it yourself Andromeda if your child was wrongly put to death). She also claims that this is possibly because of "where he lives, how much he earns, the people he knows etc." Does that mean that all people who are not the safe middle class (or oooh liberals (softies)) as she implies he/she is would wish for the death penalty? All people who live on a council estate are pro death penalty then are they? Also "He is of course entitled to his opinion, but I believe most people want the return of the death penalty." Maybe if all the people you know read the daily mail, express and sun and believe that it's ok only if you're "really sure" you got the right person. Ah that’s the minimum for any conviction.

These are gross generalisations and opinions of the population because most of the people I know are against it. They also don't read the above mentioned papers, though the ones I know who do are for it, do. Figure that out.

Personal passion, (I know someone/someone’s kid who was killed) has no place in rational debate about the death penalty, revengeful thinking is a natural response.

As I have stated before. I expect 3 things from the criminal justice system

1/ To deter (Death penalty doesn’t help there)
2/ Rehabilitate (Fails badly on that one too)
3/ Punish (Sort of but they’re not around to enjoy our justice)

The execution of an innocent person is a stain on all of us. After all, if we live in a democracy then all that is done by the state is done by us
EdGeKo 30-Jun-2009 14:4
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Sheridian0, it's funny you say that the State killing has no place in a civilized society, as I'd argue one of the two primary reasons States exist in the first place is to kill. My Lockean ideals tell me that government was set up by society to mediate disputes between members of civil society and dispense justice once those disputes are resolved.

Seriously, why in gods' names would I subject myself to the authority of the state if it's not even going to properly punish people who attack my life, liberty, or estate?

The whole 'what-if-an-innocent-person-is-killed?' argument is stupid. In any situation where that occurred the fault would not be in the sentencing but the trial - that is how justice is sought, not how it is carried out.

On a personal note, I find the idea of not having the death penalty morally offensive. To think that there are actually people who believe that the lives of rapists and murderers are as valuable as mine, or worst as valuable as the victims' lives which they destroyed, makes me ill.

Government's job is to punish vicious and degenerate men, not to protect them.
MGN2009 3-Jun-2009 23:4
And who would wish to find their wrongly convicted father cleared of all charges after his death? We are human beings, we created the system. It is not perfect
Pericles 16-Mar-2009 15:32
I used to be against the death penalty because of the possibility of an innocent person being found guilty. I now realise that's faulty reasoning and an emotional argument.
sherdian0 26-Feb-2009 19:16
I do not agree with the death penalty for a couple of reasons

1) there is always a chance that an innocent person could be killed by mistake

2) We are a civilised society and what you are talking about is killing by the state and once we go down that route where do we stop?
AndrewSlade 23-Dec-2008 9:0
Capital punishment has never been abolished in the UK, as Jean Charles De Menezes, Mr Saunders the Chelsea lawyer & the IRA in Gibraltar found to their cost. Only due process of law has been abolished in capital cases, to salve the bogus liberal consciences of judges, prosecutors, jurypersons & successive Home Secretaries. In reality, executions continue to be carried out on a regular basis (about 50 a year) by purely administrative decisions, where Policemen are judges, juries & executioners. Arguably, it is impossible to abolish the death penalty altogether, since the State and some of its servants will (in extremity) always claim the right of life and death over all persons within its jurisdiction. In that sense, as in so many ways, all States are Totalitarian & all States are Authoritarian.
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