DNA and Capital Punishment
Yet Another Reason Why We Don’t Kill Murderers in Britain
Sean Hodgson could be the latest person to benefit from the pure goodness of science and knowledge. His DNA, apparently, isn’t the same as that of the person that killed Teresa De Simone way back in 1979!
Tragically, he’s been locked up all that time for Teresa’s killing …
I certainly can’t guess at his mental state now or what he thinks of a world that could do that to him. The little I do know is that at the time of his arrest, he seemed to belong to that weird bunch of folk that admit to anything, trusting to the ‘rightness’ of authority, or, he was similar to some common people of long ago who’d admit to a murder because their lives were so impoverished that 15 minutes of fame on the scaffold seemed a good trade to get out of it.
The increasing frequency with which these miscarriages of justice are coming to light with the benefit of new technology is staggering. The only justification we have left for having the sort of legal system that’s made so many mistakes, so often, is that at last, justice is being done – and being seen to be done!
It’s not enough that in the old days someone ended up dangling on a rope and everyone else went home happy.
We can only thank those enlightened people of the post-war era who, against much opposition, demonstrated their disgust at capital punishment. I think sometimes, especially since the Thatcher era, these aims would be hard to maintain under pressure of the hang-em and flog-em brigade, rabble-roused by the popular press following some particularly appalling crime. It’s at such times a clear focus is needed to maintain the clarity between right and wrong.
The recent murders in Northern Ireland are such a time, here in the UK. Elsewhere, we’ve had gun massacres in Germany and Alabama, and bombs in Baghdad. Because all human life is precious, the only difference between the events is what happens to the perpetrators, if caught. In Germany and Northern Ireland, a convicted killer is imprisoned. Not so in Alabama or Baghdad. (I’m omitting the fact that the killers apparently topped themselves for this argument.)
There have been enough miscarriages of justice attached to the Irish troubles to make films and books. Thankfully, although many people’s lives were destroyed and changed forever, the truth came out – eventually. If people like the Birmingham Six had been executed, no further investigations would have happened and the same patterns of police and judicial behaviour would have continued until the present.
We want justice to be done and seen to be done. But we also need the right justice. The USA and other dogmatic places with rigid beliefs need to catch up. These recent events are a reminder of this, and our violent, vindictive nature, that must be controlled at all times.
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