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Capital punishment

Following the killing of PC Beshenivsky, several people who should know better have been calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty for those who kill police officers. This is a pretty silly proposal, as anyone with a handful of brain cells can recognise (too harsh?).

First and foremost, why is the death of a police officer any more terrible than the death of someone with a different job? Why is it more terrible than the killing of a child? Heck, why is it more terrible to kill a single police officer than it is to kill a tower block full of civvies? Especially when you consider that police officers are actively remunerated for the risk that they may be harmed on duty?

Secondly, people who kill police, by definition, do not expect to be caught. They’re killing the police either in a moment of clouded judgement or because they think they’re going to get away. No criminal is going to stand there and say ‘Fair cop, guv, slap the ol’ han’cuffs on then’ just because killing a police officer carries the death penalty, because they’re not considering the penalty at the time of the crime.

Thirdly, if we go about killing people based on a single decision taken in a split second, set against the background of their whole life, why are we any better than the criminals?

This proposal serves no serious purpose other than to allow some barbaric form of satisfaction for the bereaved. And, frankly, I thought humanity was better than that.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Rory

    18.36, 24/11/2005

I have to disagree with you. I believe reintroducing capital punishment for certain crimes would help restore “punishment” to the criminal justice system. For too long rehabilitation has dominated – and largely failed.

In killing a police officer you are not only unlawfully killing a person (bad enough!), but killing the very people who daily put their lives in danger to protect the vast majority of citizens who are law-abiding. If you are willing to kill a police officer then I believe you would have no qualms over killing an ‘ordinary’ citizen; furthermore, I think a clear message needs to be sent out that the police do have teeth and can fight back (through the criminal justice system) and are not crippled by the ridiculous human rights legislation we suffer from currently.

For too long figures of authority (teachers, police, etc. and most especially parents) have found themselves weakened by human rights legislation and a softly-softly approach.

It could also be argued that for some criminals it is ridiculous to spend vast sums of money locking them up for their lives when that money could be better spent elsewhere. This is of course likely to provoke a vicious backlash from the Left, however the truth is that when an individual has beaten dozens of people up, stabbed people, raped women, mugged people, and is generally widely-recognised as ‘scum’-like, then I think it is reasonable to enter into a debate on how best to deal with such individuals.

Comment from Anonymous

    19.42, 30/11/2005

A very, very quick point: If death is worse than living with the crime and punishment, why are prison suicide rates so high? The death penalty just gives people an easy way out.

Comment from MIKE

    16.01, 19/10/2007


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    18.46, 25/10/2007

Mike – Hang which bastards in particular?

Comment from jin

    06.57, 05/11/2007

If a country has its army whether to suppress its people or to fight with that of another country, a country

should have capital punishment. Reason is very ovbious. While killing inocent people abroad if it have chance, why a country cannot kill criminal who commit capital crime?
If a country deny the capital punishment, I think the country have to abandon its army.
As to the possibility of false charge to the capital punishment, you can give 50 lead years to the guilty to hedge the risk.

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3rd May 2014.

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sjhoward.co.uk » Drug shortages hamper lethal injections in the USA

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