When it comes to the rights and wrongs of the death penalty, everyone has their own opinion. I’m against it.
At this point in the conversation those who are “pro” death penalty would bring up one of the most famous cases (in England that is), of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley who were found guilty on the 6th May 1966 and as such, escaped the death penalty by a mere matter of months.
Their guilt was irrefutable and given the horror of their crimes, they were the perfect candidates for the death penalty.
The thing that sticks in the back of my mind, no matter what the perpetrator has done is this. The taking of another’s life cannot be justified, even in a Court of Law. I don’t believe we should have such power over each other, even when governed by Law.
The last public hanging in England was on the 26th May 1868, the convicted being a Michael Barratt for bombing. The final hanging in England took place on the 13th August 1964 with Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans for the murder of John Alan West. The last woman to be executed was of course Ruth Ellis on the 13th July 1955.
The death penalty was actually still in force until 1998, but only in terms of treason, piracy with violence and certain military offences (mutiny for example).
Since the abolition of the death penalty, instances of cases have arisen where the person in question was found not to have committed the crime and was given a posthumous pardon. Doesn’t do them much good now though, aside from their families getting their respect back.
I won’t start bringing up name after name but one that springs to mind is Timothy Evans who was convicted of murdering his daughter, only for it later to be found after his death that the crime had been carried out by John Christie.
I read about this particular case in a copy of “The Hangman’s Tale” by Syd Dernley who was an assistant executioner who had assisted with the famous Albert Pierrepoint with carried out the execution of Timothy Evans.
Others to mention would be Derek Bentley, who was wrongly convicted of the murder of a police officer and Mahmood Mattan, again wrongly convicted and was in fact the last person ever to be hanged at Cardiff Prison on the 3rd September 1952.
Some people will say that the lives of a few innocent people lost does not outweigh the benefit and deterrent that the death penalty was. The death penalty was indeed a strong deterrent in it’s day, but then you can look at America now, where several States have the death penalty and you could argue quite well that the death penalty there is now little or no deterrent.
Which brings me to the inspiration of my blog today. Troy Davis. He is due to be executed at 7.00pm (Georgia time). There is so much doubt as to what actually happened the night that the police officer was killed. No forensic evidence, witnesses who have retracted their statements and others who have implicated another for the killing.
All of this leads to reasonable doubt. You cannot kill a man when there is a reasonable doubt that he didn't do it. Yet that is exactly what is going to happen tonight.
Troy Davis has been on death row for twenty years and has been subjected to more than one last minute cancellations of executions. He has offered to do a polygraph test but this has been denied too. In the UK if he had committed this crime, he would either be out by now or would be nearing the end of his sentence.
This man should not be executed.