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To question my long held beliefs against capital punishment after what happened to Alesha MacPhail

(350 Posts)
Noteventhebirdsareupyet Sat 23-Mar-19 08:42:50

Hi all,

I have recently been really shaken by the Alesha MacPhailcase and possibly because I now have a tiny daughter of my own, I am feeling really affected by what has happened.

I have always had reasonably strong views against capital punishment and have often argued that:

No one has the right to take the life of another.

When capital punishment is lawful, mistakes are made and innocent people get killed.

We are supposedly a civilised society.

Often offenders were victims first and therefore need empathy and have been failed by the system.....

However I am now shocked to find myself thinking that if a person can do the things that Aaron Campbell has done to a tiny, innocent girl and show absolutely no remorse, then perhaps instead of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money keeping him incarcerated and then putting communities at risk upon his release, maybe we as a society should say that this person is intrinsically evil and has no place among us.

I honestly never imagined myself feeling like this and maybe it is because I am now a mother that I do. Surely people like him don't deserve a second chance and should be killed before they ruin more lives.

Am I being unreasonable to feel like this? Has anyone else had a turning point like me? I feel that my family and friends would be a bit shocked to hear me say "let's kill dangerous criminals" but this incident has had a profound effect on my outlook and I feel like I can't voice my opinions out loud.

MrsJayy Sun 24-Mar-19 09:54:23

There has been research on children watching violent imagary and it can change the brain chemistry exposure to porn or games affects empathy they can't see how horrific the images are , not that im saying it is a reason for Cambells crime

HelloToMyKitty Sun 24-Mar-19 10:09:40

The issue is that if criminals know there is a death penalty they are more likely to kill their victims to prevent them testifying

Proof? Not goading, but curious. I thought criminals really didn’t think too much about consequences, that’s why it’s not an effective deterrent in the first place

Sitdownstandup Sun 24-Mar-19 10:11:13

Mmm, I have no idea if it was relevant here but it's all very worrying.

LagunaBubbles Sun 24-Mar-19 10:11:20

He’s not right in the head is he. I worry as a society how we’ve missed that. I don’t want other mentally ill people state murdered

He is not mentally ill! Why do people keep saying this, its as if some people just can't accept that there is "bad" people in the world! He certainly sounds like a psychopath.

MrsJayy Sun 24-Mar-19 10:14:22

He certainly wasn't wired right he didn't seem to have any boundries did what he liked but he wasn't mentally ill.

Inliverpool1 Sun 24-Mar-19 10:30:17

I honestly do not believe in good and bad people. I used to, but good people do bad things and bad people do good things. It’s not black and white.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 24-Mar-19 11:08:23

Jail is proper retribution? I don’t see how? Please explain ....

The principle behind retribution is that it's proportional to the offence and held to be deserved. Because of that proportionality it's different to revenge, which is why many feel it's important for the kind of balanced society I mentioned

catinboots99 Sun 24-Mar-19 14:27:42

How many people on this thread who are saying prison is a soft option have actually spent any time in a prison?

YouBumder Sun 24-Mar-19 14:46:16

Quite honestly in this moment, yes. If AC was in front of me and I had a shotgun, I'd do small girls everywhere a favour and get rid of him.

That would really help your own daughter wouldn’t it, going to prison for 15 years or whatever. He’s safe now away from young girls where he is and chances are he’ll never be released.

He’s not right in the head is he. I worry as a society how we’ve missed that. I don’t want other mentally ill people state murdered

For fucks sake, why do people keep insisting he’s mentally ill? Nothing was “missed”. Do you understand that people accused of murder have to be examined by 2 psychiatrists before they can even stand trial, and that’s not even taking into account the further examinations there have been here prior to conviction. Stop talking nonsense and actually just educate yourself on the publicly revealed comments on the case which disclose that AC had NO mental illness or disorder of any kind.

Inliverpool1 Sun 24-Mar-19 14:52:49

YouBumder - and as I keep on repeating the alternative to claiming that he’s not mentally ill is what ? That he’s a beast, a monster, sub human? Clearly none of that is true either ... so there is an issue. Just because it’s not immediately apparent doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Inliverpool1 Sun 24-Mar-19 14:56:35

Just as a personal family example, it’s tsken nearly 30 years for my uncle to be diagnosed and his medication accurately prescribed.

Inliverpool1 Sun 24-Mar-19 14:57:35

And the diagnosis must have changed at least 5 times that I know of in that time period, probably down to environmental factors.

YouBumder Sun 24-Mar-19 15:44:19

He is likely to be psychopathic which is not a mental illness but a personality disorder. He’s going to have had and will continue to have very, very many assessments into his mental state. It’s really not likely that something has been missed. People just for some reason seem to be unwilling to accept that some people just do fucking horrible things and there’s no explanation for it. AC isn’t the first such offender and he won’t be the last.

Inliverpool1 Sun 24-Mar-19 15:54:47

We’ll have to agree to disagree. There’s always an explanation we just don’t know what it is yet.

Tunnockswafer Sun 24-Mar-19 15:54:50

Is there a difference in terms of moral responsibility between having a mental illness and having a personality disorder? Does either person have the same level of free will over what they do as, say, I would? It is an interesting (and disturbing) area.

Inliverpool1 Sun 24-Mar-19 15:58:00

The Royal college of Psychiatrists in 2002 removed any difference, a personality disorder is a mental illness

Myheartbelongsto Sun 24-Mar-19 16:04:50

Poor little girl had 117 injuries on her body.

If there was capital punishment still, I'd hope this sick bastard would be at the front of the queue.

If she were my child, I'd hang him myself.

twattymctwatterson Sun 24-Mar-19 16:12:45

I'm actually going to agree that Arron Campbell's brain is wired differently and there will be a reason for that. He has traits on the psychopathy scale sure but the same was said about Mary Bell who is very much not a psychopath but was a child extremely damaged by horrific physical and sexual abuse. He could have a personality disorder- 16 is just a bit young to be diagnosed.

At some point more may come out about his "less than ideal" childhood. Almost all of the infamous serial killers have awful childhoods. That doesn't mean I feel sorry for them or think they're less culpable, they're not. Just that there will probably be an explanation for what went wrong with his mind.

Mumberjack Sun 24-Mar-19 17:33:25

I’m in the ‘hangings too good for him’ camp. I do not think capital punishment is adequate retribution, it’s an easy way out. He should have to live with the consequences of his actions and given the judge felt the chance of rehabilitation was extremely slim, he shouldn’t be afforded such opportunities.

As much as I hate the thought of the sheer cost to the taxpayer to keep him behind bars, that is where he has to stay.

In my less charitable moments I think he should be kept amongst the general prison population, in solitary confinement, or with the threat that his door is never locked and therefore with the constant fear that fellow prisoners will set upon him. The impact on him mentally would be his punishment.

HelloToMyKitty Sun 24-Mar-19 18:14:51

He should have to live with the consequences of his actions

He won’t. He doesn’t seem to care about all.

HelloToMyKitty Sun 24-Mar-19 18:19:29

To expand on that, I only think it only works with a Chris Watts type, who really did seem to love his children. if someone could tape their photos to his wall....

MrsJayy Sun 24-Mar-19 19:15:23

I don't think people like A C are ever sorry they don't seem to have the capacity for remorse they willfeel sorry for themselves bang on about their rights but will never have a lightbulb moment of the pain and suffering they have caused.

IAmNotAWitch Sun 24-Mar-19 21:28:19

No, not in rage and anger.

Would you actually kill someone quietly, calmly, by appointment and under orders from above? Because that is what you are calling for when you want the death penalty.

I understand rage and vegeance and lose no sleep when people get what is coming to them as a natural result of their actions.

But I do not want to live in a society where someone can order someone elses death. Really think about what you are saying.

No shotguns at a distance, too messy. You would need to do this personally or require that it was someone's job.

Maybe a medical professional? Someone who knows what they are doing? Someone trained to sace lives who is open to deliberately ending them instead? Think

What we do with our worst defines who we are at our best. So we put them away from other people, we give them to basics. If you want harsher penalties you will need to have a look at the whole justice system because ad I understand it if the penalties are too harsh juries are less likely to convict as they don't want it on their conscious. So by advocating for a return of the death penalty you will likely see more monsters go free.

Or perhaps we do away with juries? Just have judges deciding who lives and who dies?

Just think.

YouBumder Sun 24-Mar-19 21:31:09

understand it if the penalties are too harsh juries are less likely to convict as they don't want it on their conscious. So by advocating for a return of the death penalty you will likely see more monsters go free.

Good point.

It’s one of these things that people are quite happy to think we should have the DP and other people be executioners but I doubt there are many people who would actually take that step themselves to kill someone. I know I wouldn’t so why would I expect someone else to do it.

HelloToMyKitty Sun 24-Mar-19 21:37:37

So by advocating for a return of the death penalty you will likely see more monsters go free

Not really. You do know they can opt not to give the death penalty as well, don’t you? They are given a range of options and this is stressed to jurors.

IAmNotAWitch Sun 24-Mar-19 21:58:46

Yes, I am aware of the basics for how juries are informed and also that they do not decide on the sentence. Only whether the person is guilty or not.

Think about how you raise the stakes in a jury room when you add death as a possible outcome of their decision.

ilovecheese1 Sun 24-Mar-19 21:59:40

I get it OP, I have a young daughter too. It’s sickening. I do feel like we’d be going backwards bringing back the death penalty though. It just seems barbaric despite his crimes. Saying that, if they did bring it back & sentenced him to death, I wouldn’t be outside protesting them to stop. & if it was my daughter I would probably completely agree with you.

Sitdownstandup Sun 24-Mar-19 22:03:13

Juries don't sentence.

SerenDippitty Sun 24-Mar-19 22:10:34

It’s well worth reading how they do capital punishment in Japan. It’s shrouded in secrecy and ritual. Prisoners may be kept on death row for years, decades even but only have an hour’s warning of their execution. Hanging rooms are plushly carpeted with art on the walls.

YouBumder Sun 24-Mar-19 22:10:59

Juries don’t decide on sentence. But they may well be reluctant to convict if that could be an outcome

HelloToMyKitty Sun 24-Mar-19 22:18:20

Juries don't sentence

They do in the US, however. Very interesting how they are formed, and whether judges can overrule their decisions.

HelloToMyKitty Sun 24-Mar-19 22:25:54

Makes for interesting reading, where US judges overrule a life sentence given by a jury and impose a death sentence.

I’m not familiar with the UK legal system at all, or how CP was used.

IAmNotAWitch Sun 24-Mar-19 22:40:41

So do you advocate for a change to the UK system to allow for death qualified juries, or for the system to stay the same and for a jury to convict in the knowledge that a judge may impose death as a result of their decision?

I too am not an expert in the UK legal system, I do not however, think that the US is a leader in this area.

As I have said upthread, I understand the rage, and I can only imagine how much I would want blood if it was my child. But people need to think about what they are actually suggesting when they call for a return of the death penalty.

You are saying that it is right and just that death can be ordered and done as a matter of course. You are asking someone to take on that responsibility and do it on your behalf and in your name, you are not allowing for the failings in the justice system, not allowing for the possibility of prejudice and fallibility.

XXcstatic Sun 24-Mar-19 22:46:38

Until the last 10 years of capital punishment in the UK, there was a mandatory death sentence for murder - in the same way that a life sentence is mandatory now. One of the arguments for abolition was that knowing that a death sentence was mandatory made a jury less likely to convict, as they didn't want to have the murderer's blood on their hands.

The Home Secretary frequently commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment, though - so only about 12 people a year were hanged in the UK in the twentieth century - compared to about 120 a year in the peak hanging & flogging era of the late eighteenth century.

NCforthis2019 Sun 24-Mar-19 22:46:51

Actually - in my country where we have capital punishment - it has been absolutely a deterrent for people committing such abhorrent crime such as this. I’m not from the states so cannot comment on wrongful executions/deterrent there. But in my country - absolutely. I actually know (my family do anyway) of someone who got the death penalty years ago - he absolutely deserved it for what he did (which he admitted and was proven beyond any doubt).

XXcstatic Sun 24-Mar-19 22:57:08

it has been absolutely a deterrent for people committing such abhorrent crime such as this

What's your evidence for that? In general, rates of violent crime have dropped since the death penalty was abolished in Europe. States in the US where the death penalty is actually used (as opposed to those where it is either abolished or on the books but not carried out) typically have higher rates than of violent crime than states that don't use it.

If you are stupid or reckless enough not to be deterred by a lifetime in prison, you are unlikely to be deterred by the risk of a death sentence.

Lizzie48 Sun 24-Mar-19 23:00:19

@XXcstatic @NCforthis2019 appears to be reluctant to state the country she's from, so she's unlikely to provide you with actual evidence.

JamieVardysHavingAParty Sun 24-Mar-19 23:01:16

This, on the psychological impact on jurors after serving on a case which ended in a death sentence, is also an interesting read.

There is a study somewhere where American jurors were asked whether they would have delivered the same guilty verdict if they'd known it would lead to a death penalty. Funnily enough, a significant number said no.

EustaciaPieface Sun 24-Mar-19 23:08:14

He will never be released, I’m sure of that. Thank god.

JamieVardysHavingAParty Sun 24-Mar-19 23:20:41

Found it.

Decision‐making theory suggests that jurors will tend to choose the verdict that maximizes the expected gains minus the expected losses of each decision. Capital punishment (as compared to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment) would seem to increase the perceived negative consequences of a guilty verdict without affecting the consequences of a non‐guilty verdict. This should make guilty decisions less likely. To test this prediction, questionnaires were sent to all jurors who had served on 32 first degree murder trials in which capital punishment was not in effect and who reached guilty verdicts. They were asked whether their verdicts in the murder trial would have been affected if capital punishment had been a possible sentence. Thirty percent of the respondents replied that they would have been less likely to vote guilty, whereas only 3% said they would have been more likely to vote guilty. Of the 32 separate jury panels, 30 had at least one person who indicated that he or she would have been less likely to vote guilty; and in 7 trials, 50% or more of those who responded gave this answer. The results appear to indicate that the possibility of a death sentence reduces the likelihood of a guilty verdict.

IAmNotAWitch Mon 25-Mar-19 00:17:52

On a personal level, I would be far less inclined to return a guilty verdict if there was a possibility/probability that the accused would be killed as a result of my decision.

It would effect what I considered 'reasonable' doubt, if I had even the tiniest doubt I would choose not to convict.

HelloToMyKitty Mon 25-Mar-19 06:32:53

Can’t see the abstract but where was the study done? In the states it’s not as simple as a guilty punishment leads to death. The jury chooses it as an option, they can also opt for life imprisonment. The judge can only overrule them in a small number of states.

That said, the selection of death penalty jurors is somewhat controversial. They need to be “death qualified” and be willing to hand over the death sentence depending on circumstances. So there are actually more convictions resulting in death penalty because the pool they select from has no qualms about using it when they feel it is warranted.

I have no firm views on CP actually, traditionally I’ve been against due to errors by the state, but I recognise this might not necessarily have to happen.

Acis Mon 25-Mar-19 06:54:41

Actually - in my country where we have capital punishment - it has been absolutely a deterrent for people committing such abhorrent crime such as this.

How do you know, NCforthis? It would only be an absolute deterrent if it never has to be used, and you cite at least one case where it has been.

JamieVardysHavingAParty Mon 25-Mar-19 10:50:32

The bit in italics up above is the abstract. Can't find an Athens log-in that will get me into the site to read the whole thing, so I'd guess they were trials in America, in non-CP states.

Doesn't need to be as simple as guilty = death. If it's a possible outcome of a guilty verdict, jurors take that into account before they deliver the verdict, and you can see that phenomenon at work in the historical records of the UK.

LagunaBubbles Thu 28-Mar-19 20:07:40

honestly do not believe in good and bad people. I used to, but good people do bad things and bad people do good things. It’s not black and white

And bad people do bad things. Under no stretch of the imagination is someone who did what they did to Alesha a good person.

EmeraldShamrock Thu 28-Mar-19 21:00:51

Under no stretch of the imagination is someone who did what they did to Alesha a good person
He wasn't a bad person either, he is a depraved evil person.
I believe people can be evil, we have saw evil many times in the media, I do not believe Campbell or Huntley and others will ever reform.

yanboo Thu 28-Mar-19 22:06:10

This man should be executed.

TORDEVAN Thu 28-Mar-19 22:19:12

i don't agree with capital punishment, but i do think life should be life for people like him and prison should be a punishment (no cushy cells/free degrees and training/etc!)

IAmNotAWitch Fri 29-Mar-19 02:40:13

Good/bad - he is still a person.

Tunnockswafer Fri 29-Mar-19 08:11:12

If there is ever a chance of a murderer getting out (which there is, very few have whole life sentences) then it is not to our benefit to treat them as animals inside. If it is possible to rehabilitate them (and I know it isn’t always) then this is to everyone’s benefit.

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