Charles Manson

Rosebud

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
434
Likes
530
Points
99
Surely the point of incarceration versus execution, is that society as a whole can be protected from individuals, who by their actions show they are unable to live according to the simple moral precept (religion aside) of "do not kill others" without lowering society to the same level as them by killing them.

Is it not the natural evolution of civilisation to stop seeking retribution in this way?
The problem is, a life sentence often doesn't mean Life, it means a fixed tariff. Colin Pitchfork is currently out and about in Bristol, browsing shops and enjoying his lunch, prior to release. He is 57, which is not old - let's hope he doesn't attack anyone else.

http://www.hinckleytimes.net/news/local-news/killer-colin-pitchfork-seen-shopping-13910091

His victims, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both aged 15, are gone forever. Why should he get freedom and a second chance?

I agree that Capital Punishment cannot be overturned, but he - and others like him - should be locked up for good.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
4,684
Likes
8,542
Points
234
The problem is, a life sentence often doesn't mean Life...
The last time I researched this, the average UK "life" sentence was 12 years 9 months.

Here's a Daily Telegraph feature on the (then) 70 prisoners actually serving "whole life" terms, i.e. "You'll die in prison.":

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/25/70-prisoners-serving-whole-life-sentences-uk/

Keen abolitionist eyes will spot a couple of oopses in there, e.g.:

"Paul Glen: A hitman who had previously served life for murder. Killed again upon his release and was given a whole life tariff by a judge in 2004.

Glyn Dix: Jailed for life for murder in the 1970s but after his release killed again. Given a whole life term in 2005.

Michael Smith: Jailed for life for murder in the 1970s and killed again after being released from prison."

Etc.


maximus otter
 
Last edited:

cycleboy2

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
1,096
Likes
2,012
Points
169
so y'all opposed the death penalties carried out at Nuremburg then ?
Yep. Not sorry they're dead and I don't grieve for them – but my personal belief is that the death penalty is always wrong. I studied German history for three years at university, and we have friends in Germany who lost family members in Auschwitz, so I'm aware of the crimes they were guilty of.
 

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
The last time I researched this, the average UK "life" sentence was 12 years 9 months.

Here's a Daily Telegraph feature on the (then) 70 prisoners actually serving "whole life" terms, i.e. "You'll die in prison.":

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/25/70-prisoners-serving-whole-life-sentences-uk/

Keen abolitionist eyes will spot a couple of oopses in there, e.g.:

"Paul Glen: A hitman who had previously served life for murder. Killed again upon his release and was given a whole life tariff by a judge in 2004.

Glyn Dix: Jailed for life for murder in the 1970s but after his release killed again. Given a whole life term in 2005.

Michael Smith: Jailed for life for murder in the 1970s and killed again after being released from prison."

Etc.


maximus otter
To be fair, Peter Sutcliffe will likely serve the entirety of his life term.

Life Without Parole is an option in several US states. Hasn't the European Court ruled that giving a prisoner no hope of parole is cruel or something? How will that go with Brexit?
 

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
Yes that will also be cruel (and without end).
I just woke up and my mind is struggling a bit. What I meant to ask was this: will the UK still be bound by the decisions of the European Court after Brexit?

After Brexit would the Home Office legally be able to keep someone such as Sutcliffe behind bars forever?
 

Yithian

Parish Watch
Staff member
Joined
Oct 29, 2002
Messages
26,296
Likes
26,694
Points
309
Location
East of Suez
I just woke up and my mind is struggling a bit. What I meant to ask was this: will the UK still be bound by the decisions of the European Court after Brexit?

After Brexit would the Home Office legally be able to keep someone such as Sutcliffe behind bars forever?
At this stage it's unknown.

There are possibilities:

We may enter into an agreement to be bound by the court's future judgments (May is yes-no-yes-no and currently yes on this, but if we don't reach an actual working agreement before departure it's a 'No'). I think those who voted out will be livid if we remain under the court.

We may set up a system whereby judgments are ordinarily enforced and incorporated into law but this is subject to veto.

We may opt out of jurisdiction entirely and have our fairly newly established Supreme Court replace it.

Even if we remove ourselves from formal jurisdiction, British courts already take into account the judgments of foreign courts in their deliberations (I forget the legal term for this). I presume the European Court will simply become another foreign court in this respect.
 

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
The only way you can be sure of that is if the judge and jury witness the crime - video evidence, DNA, confessions...anything can be faked or misjudged, surely?
While I have to concede the possibility in an intellectual sense., it is extremely hard to do, and is very rare.

One time a man was convicted of bank robbery in spite of an air-tight alibi, and was imprisoned. He had identified by several eyewitnesses as the culprit, and his fingerprints had been lifted from the crime scene.

Defense counsel countered this by saying that he had been elsewhere and could prove it. If memory serves, it was a wedding or some other celebration.

Air-tight alibi or fingerprints. The jury had to make a choice. and since fingerprints are totally unique to the individual, the jury concluded (and quite reasonably) that they outweigh the air-tight alibi and the man was convicted.

Did the accused do the deed? What do my greatly-esteemed fellow-posters think?
 

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
At this stage it's unknown.

There are possibilities:

We may enter into an agreement to be bound by the court's future judgments (May is yes-no-yes-no and currently yes on this, but if we don't reach an actual working agreement before departure it's a 'No'). I think those who voted out will be livid if we remain under the court.

We may set up a system whereby judgments are ordinarily enforced and incorporated into law but this is subject to veto.

We may opt out of jurisdiction entirely and have our fairly newly established Supreme Court replace it.

Even if we remove ourselves from formal jurisdiction, British courts already take into account the judgments of foreign courts in their deliberations (I forget the legal term for this). I presume the European Court will simply become another foreign court in this respect.
Interesting. would have thought that once the UK was out of the Union, they would no longer be bound by their laws.

I believe, my friend, that the word you want is 'precedence'. It might surprise some to learn that American courts have cited precedents from the UK. It doesn't happen often, and was much more common early on when we lacked the legal history that we now have.

Adolf Eichmann made the argument that his kidnapping was illegal and therefore he should be released, but the Israeli Supreme Court, which tried him, ruled against him, citing precedents from US and British courts.

I think opting out would be the best for the UK. But it's not my decision to make.
 

CuriousIdent

Not yet SO old Great Old One
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Messages
1,428
Likes
1,053
Points
184
Location
Warwickshire, England.
I'm always more in favour of a bit more an oubliette approach than a death penalty. With the number of convictions which do get overturned decades later, when new evidence or new facts are brought to light, the death penalty is a poor choice.

If an individual is put to death for a crime they did not commit no amount of ANY kind of remuneration for their family can ever make up for their murder at the hands of the State. The State cannot be punished. The Judge will not be punished. The system cannot be charged with a criminal act.

It doesn't work. Life in prison, in permanence, with no chance of parole has to be the answer.
 

Dr_Baltar

Left Foot of God
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
2,666
Likes
1,043
Points
169
...fingerprints are totally unique to the individual...
Hasn't this recently been disputed? Even if it were true, it's rarely the case that fingerprints left at a crime scene would be immaculate and complete. DNA evidence has, likewise, been shown to be fallible.
 

UnknownUnknown

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
259
Likes
544
Points
94
While I have to concede the possibility in an intellectual sense., it is extremely hard to do, and is very rare.

One time a man was convicted of bank robbery in spite of an air-tight alibi, and was imprisoned. He had identified by several eyewitnesses as the culprit, and his fingerprints had been lifted from the crime scene.

Defense counsel countered this by saying that he had been elsewhere and could prove it. If memory serves, it was a wedding or some other celebration.

Air-tight alibi or fingerprints. The jury had to make a choice. and since fingerprints are totally unique to the individual, the jury concluded (and quite reasonably) that they outweigh the air-tight alibi and the man was convicted.

Did the accused do the deed? What do my greatly-esteemed fellow-posters think?

I'd say that's a good illustration of 'reasonable doubt'.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,867
Likes
10,763
Points
279
I'm always more in favour of a bit more an oubliette approach than a death penalty. With the number of convictions which do get overturned decades later, when new evidence or new facts are brought to light, the death penalty is a poor choice.
I take the view that the law, such as it is, has to operate from a higher ethical standard than the subjects of it. So if the law prohibits murder, it cannot implement capital punishment from an ethical perspective. That would just be 'an eye for an eye'.

I would, as you say @CuriousIdent , favour the 'oubliette approach'. One can always release a person when a mistake is made. But I would put people away for all of their lives for wilful murder and I'd sleep soundly for it. Not to do so undermines the value of human life in society and there should be justice.
 

CarlosTheDJ

Antediluvian
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
5,822
Likes
5,345
Points
294
Location
Sussex

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
I take the view that the law, such as it is, has to operate from a higher ethical standard than the subjects of it. So if the law prohibits murder, it cannot implement capital punishment from an ethical perspective. That would just be 'an eye for an eye'.

I would, as you say @CuriousIdent , favour the 'oubliette approach'. One can always release a person when a mistake is made. But I would put people away for all of their lives for wilful murder and I'd sleep soundly for it. Not to do so undermines the value of human life in society and there should be justice.
Let's take this argument (the one that I highlighted) to its logical extreme, shall we?

Kidnapping (the taking and holding of a person against their will) is illegal. In fact, in the USA it was regarded as so serious a crime that it was punishable by death. The death penalty aside, how would you punish kidnapping? The answer that most have would be to imprison them. So, then if the law prohibits kidnapping, your logic would dictate that imprisonment cannot be implemented from an ethical perspective either.

I have heard this from opponents of the death penalty:

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

Using the idea that imprisoning people is kidnapping

"Why do we kidnap people who kidnap people to show that kidnapping people is wrong?"

Do you see what I'm doing? What is imprisonment then? It is taking and holding someone against their will.

With all due respect, what you are doing is drawing a false moral equivalency between a criminal and the law. Even though I do support the death penalty in limited circumstances, I also recognize that there are very valid arguments against it. This, however, is not one of them.
 

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
I'm always more in favour of a bit more an oubliette approach than a death penalty. With the number of convictions which do get overturned decades later, when new evidence or new facts are brought to light, the death penalty is a poor choice.

If an individual is put to death for a crime they did not commit no amount of ANY kind of remuneration for their family can ever make up for their murder at the hands of the State. The State cannot be punished. The Judge will not be punished. The system cannot be charged with a criminal act.

It doesn't work. Life in prison, in permanence, with no chance of parole has to be the answer.
Its irrevocability is the only really valid argument against the use of the death penalty.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,867
Likes
10,763
Points
279
Let's take this argument (the one that I highlighted) to its logical extreme, shall we?

Kidnapping (the taking and holding of a person against their will) is illegal. In fact, in the USA it was regarded as so serious a crime that it was punishable by death. The death penalty aside, how would you punish kidnapping? The answer that most have would be to imprison them. So, then if the law prohibits kidnapping, your logic would dictate that imprisonment cannot be implemented from an ethical perspective either.

I have heard this from opponents of the death penalty:

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

Using the idea that imprisoning people is kidnapping

"Why do we kidnap people who kidnap people to show that kidnapping people is wrong?"

Do you see what I'm doing? What is imprisonment then? It is taking and holding someone against their will.

With all due respect, what you are doing is drawing a false moral equivalency between a criminal and the law. Even though I do support the death penalty in limited circumstances, I also recognize that there are very valid arguments against it. This, however, is not one of them.
That's a decent point. However, if the law is simply "the rules" laid down by a government with no moral or ethical component, then surely it's just a tyranny? "Do what we tell you".

By extension then aren't you arguing that 'stealing' isn't ethically wrong and that we just imprison the thief for it to discourage them from stealing other stuff. If law is not a question of ethics, what's wrong with stealing?
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
12,977
Likes
14,907
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Hasn't this recently been disputed? Even if it were true, it's rarely the case that fingerprints left at a crime scene would be immaculate and complete. DNA evidence has, likewise, been shown to be fallible.
Yes - there have been cases in which fingerprints have been demonstrated to be judged identical even though obtained from different individuals (or vice versa).

The bottom line is that fingerprints are neither the 100% unique evidence from, nor the 100% reliable pointers to, specific individuals which early proponents claimed. The fact that fingerprint analysis was promoted without any serious attempt at verifying this uniqueness claim arguably qualifies it as pseudoscience, albeit quite useful pseudoscience.

There's no question that ambiguities, outright screw-ups, deliberate fraud, biases, and / or judgment calls on the part of fingerprint analysts result in errors. It's still unclear whether these failures in analysis represent the entirety of the problem.

By this I mean it's still unclear whether the reasonable conclusion is:

- Identification of an individual from fingerprints is always relative / probabilistic rather than absolute / certain, and it must be qualified with respect to the given analysis' scope or horizon of discrimination, versus ...

- Fingerprint uniqueness is a baldfaced BS claim that's evaded serious scrutiny and validation for too long.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
4,684
Likes
8,542
Points
234
DNA evidence has, likewise, been shown to be fallible.
Not as far as I'm aware, though I would be interested to see evidence to the contrary.

However:

1. Lab practice in the use of DNA has been questioned, e.g. cross-contamination.

2. Statistical presentations to juries have been questioned, i.e. statements to the effect that "The DNA evidence is such that there is only 1 chance in 2.1 billion that somebody other than the defendant left the sample at the crime scene".

As I said above, though, I don't believe that DNA itself (if you can phrase it like that) has ever been questioned.

maximus otter
 
Last edited:

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
4,684
Likes
8,542
Points
234
Yes - there have been cases in which fingerprints have been demonstrated to be judged identical even though obtained from different individuals.
I can believe this in the case of a partial print, or perhaps a distorted print in a plastic medium, e.g. putty or butter, but I find it hard to believe that two full, clear fingerprints have ever been demonstrated to be identical in two different people.

I am open to being contradicted, though.

maximus otter
 

gerhard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
857
Likes
838
Points
94
While I have to concede the possibility in an intellectual sense., it is extremely hard to do, and is very rare.

One time a man was convicted of bank robbery in spite of an air-tight alibi, and was imprisoned. He had identified by several eyewitnesses as the culprit, and his fingerprints had been lifted from the crime scene.

Defense counsel countered this by saying that he had been elsewhere and could prove it. If memory serves, it was a wedding or some other celebration.

Air-tight alibi or fingerprints. The jury had to make a choice. and since fingerprints are totally unique to the individual, the jury concluded (and quite reasonably) that they outweigh the air-tight alibi and the man was convicted.

Did the accused do the deed? What do my greatly-esteemed fellow-posters think?
They were his fingerprints. That part is beyond question.

Do I answer the riddle now? I think it best that I do.

The detective who worked the case was bothered by the discrepancy. The defendant had no criminal record, and the alibi was, like I sad, iron-clad. The only piece of physical evidence the police had to go on was the fingerprint. Since the eyewitness testimony was 'neutralized' in effect by the alibi evidence, the detective looked closely at the latent print card introduced in evidence at the trial, and compared that to the fingerprints taken for some reason (I forget what it was, possibly entrance into the armed forces or some such thing) and noticed something odd.

When a fingerprint is rolled the pattern flatten out much like rubber tire (tyre to you British) does when it meets the road. The detective looked very closely and noticed that there were no differences in the width of the pattern. Every loop, arch whorl and line was exactly the same as it was on the fingerprint card from earlier. The detective knew that this was as close to impossible as it was possible to be. He confronted the evidence technician and the techie confessed that he had planted the evidence.

The positive identification by the eyewitnesses was the motivation. He just wanted to help his friends on the police service out. Since the fingerprints were the only piece of physical evidence the prosecutor had, he moved for a dismissal of the charges.

Several months later a man was arrested for bank robbery, and he bore a marked similarity to the first defendant. It turned out that he was the first robber as well.

I think that it is important to see and admit the weaknesses of your argument and in addition, this was a damned interesting case.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,867
Likes
10,763
Points
279
I think that it is important to see and admit the weaknesses of your argument and in addition, this was a damned interesting case.
That's true. I like that the detective thought through the issue and reasoned that if the two pieces of evidence were directly contradictory then one of them had to be wrong, and started checking more closely.
 
Top