Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are two people that whilst perhaps not immediately springing to the forefront of your mind, have a very poignant link to the history of the UK. They were the last people to be executed in the UK; they were hung from the gallows on 13 August 1964 for the murder of John Alan West.
Mick Philpott was recently sentenced for the manslaughter of his children;
Mick Philpott was described as a "disturbingly dangerous man" with "no moral compass" as he was sentenced to life in jail today for killing six of his children in a house fire. He and his wife Mairead, along with their friend Paul Mosley, were each found guilty of six counts of manslaughter on Tuesday after a trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
Philpott, 56, his 32-year-old wife and Mosley, 46, were all found guilty of killing Jade Philpott, 10, and her brothers John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, Jayden, five, and Duwayne, 13, in the fire at their home in Victory Road, Allenton, Derby, in the early hours of 11 May last year.
This has once again prompted calls by some, for the UK to reinstate capital punishment (further referred to as the death penalty). For what he has done I think Mick Philpott is a despicable man, not only did his actions lead to the death of children, they were his own children. They say a parent should never outlive their children, especially not in this case. However, I still don't agree with calls to bring back the death penalty.
If we as a country brought back the death penalty, what of the risk of wrongful convictions? Could you live with the thought of being a juror who ended up sending an innocent man to his death? I certainly couldn't that's for sure.
I can certainly understand (but I don't agree with) why people try to portray the death penalty or at least the threat of it, as something to dissuade people from committing crime. To me, that isn't what is happening here. Every single time someone commits a heinous crime in the UK, there are invariably calls to bring back the death penalty. The majority of the time, these calls are reactionary and born from some want to "punish" the person(s) who commit such crimes.
Except if you as 'the state' took the life of somebody, why would you do it? Would it be down to a feeling of having to punish someone for their actions, or would it be some way of trying to make yourself feel better? Due to the crimes people such as Mick Philpott have committed, they unvaryingly receive a rough time in prison, if you took his life then he would have an easy ride and it would stop. If Mick Philpott was killed for his crime, the only people who would continue to suffer would be his remaining children who undoubtedly feel betrayed by the actions of their parents.
If someone committed a heinous crime and the state took his or her life as a result of the punishment, the only people who remain suffering (and living with what has happened) after the sentence is carried out, would be those effected by the original crime in the first place. How can it be that an innocent bystander may be the only one left to deal with the horrors of such a crime?
There is a cost benefit of punishing someone by taking their life, it would certainly save a lot of money if they didn't have to be housed in prison for 'x' number of years. Except, as much as the finances of UK PLC (the government) are in a dire state I find it abhorrent at times if people can justify mixing finances and fatality, and argue that taking a life is worth saving a certain amount of money. Whilst I consider people such as Mick Philpott to be worthless in my eyes, my friends and family are certainly considered priceless to me. It would be a mistake to start assigning specific monetary value to life.
If you suggest that we should leave people like Mr Philpott to 'rot in prison', I would certainly be inclined to not disagree with you. If you suggest that he should be sentenced to death, and thereby on a platter handing him the easy way out of having to deal with the fact he killed his children, then just remember the following; If you lock him up for the rest of his life, he is punished for the rest of his life. If you took his life, his punishment lasts five minutes and the only people left suffering are those who committed no crime (his remaining children).