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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.

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.

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

Good/bad - he is still a person.

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!)

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

This man should be executed.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 23:01:16

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.

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.

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.

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 22:46:38

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Juries don't sentence.

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.

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.

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