British MP asked Justice Minister to reintroduce the Death Penalty

The MP John Hayes asked the justice secretary in a written request in Parliament to “make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to reintroduce the death penalty to tackle violent crime”. The response from the justice minister Edward Argar was that the government “opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and has no plans to reintroduce it”. Mr Argar also explained  that the UK is campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty globally, he said: “There is no evidence that capital punishment acts as a deterrent to violent crime. Furthermore, the reintroduction of the death penalty would bring with it the very real risk that some innocent people would die.”

Capital punishment ended in the UK in 1965. The last people to be hanged were Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans, who were executed for the murder of John West in Seaton, Cumberland.

This 10 minute video from BBC Teach is just for GCSE students as the content is for older teenagers, and shows you the arguments for and against the death penalty. Or you can read about it on BBC Bitesize. Below are some slides which give the basic arguments for and against having the death penalty (capital punishment) as a method of punishment:

non religious

christian against

muslim against

christian images

muslims for

He leaves a trail so he can prove where he’s been

The story of Anthony Ray Hinton is one which highlights the risks of the death penalty and the racism which means that even though African American and Hispanics make up just 36% of the population they make up 56% of the prison population in the USA. He spent 28 years on death row for two murders he didn’t commit.

When you have to give the different points of view about capital punishment (the death penalty) an often mentioned argument is that innocent people might get unjustly killed. Anthony Ray Hinton’s story gives much weight to this opinion.

What’s it like in a Youth Offender Institute?

There are often newspaper exposes of how cushy it is in prison: drugs on tap, computer games… a bit like a luxury hotel. Well a court case agains the Ministry of Justice is shedding some light on what Feltham Youth Offender Institute is like for some of guests.

  • locked in his cell for 23 and a half hours a day and denied the education to which he is legally entitled
  • let out of his cell for only half an hour a day to make phonecalls, take a shower or be given medication.
  • not allowed into the gym
  • one-third of imprisoned children spent time in isolation

Feltham youth offender

Justice Secretary says there’s no quick fix to cut prisoner numbers

The Justice Secretary Liz Truss has said that growing prison populations shouldn’t be cut by making sentences shorter and that the bigger numbers of prisoners is due to more criminals serving time for violence and sex crimes.

With the most recent figures putting the population of inmates in England and Wales at 85,523 – an increase of almost 90% since the 1990s, there are calls to reduce the number of people in our prisons. The Prison Reform Trust calculates that an average of 20,000 prisoners are held in overcrowded conditions in England and Wales. Such overcrowding can seriously reduce the chances of rehabilitating prisoners.

Human Rights and Amnesty International

We’re lucky to have an Amnesty International Youth Group at school where students on Wednesdays after school in Room 8 can meet, discuss, learn and take decisive action on Human Rights issues happening all around the world.

aimy-udhr-poster

If you’re feeling that world events are spiralling in to a dangerous position of racism, discrimination and intolerance, perhaps a visit to the Amnesty group might allow you a place to safely voice your fears and learn how to take action.

One of the issues that Amnesty International‘s works tirelessly on is the treatment of refugees.  They do however also get involved in debates about any issue which affects human rights such as the death penalty, the Hillsborough disaster and North Korea.

 

Life must mean life

The 2016 AQA Religious Studies Morality paper had a question asking students whether criminals who receive a life sentence should stay in prison for their whole life. Students exam answers gave both points of view and then arrived at a conclusion which showed the students’ point of view. Well today in the news European judges have agreed that British courts can give prison sentences which say ‘life means life’ for the most disgusting crimes, such as mass murder.

Life should mean life – it protects the rest of the society from a dangerous criminal; a harsh sentence will deter other from committing a similar crime; it is retribution for the victim and victim’s family that the criminal loses their freedom forever; the Christian ideas of an eye for eye, tooth for tooth from the Old Testament implies an evil act should be met with a hard punishment.

Criminals should be released eventually – there should be the opportunity for reform; some Christians think that only God will judge our sins like in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats; Christians believe that Jesus taught forgiveness by dying on the cross so everyone’s sins are forgiven; “forgive them father for they know not what they do” is a key quote from the Bible which shows that people are sinful due to their free will and so should be forgiven (which Lauren Hill sang about); and the old favourite from the Parable of the Good Samaritan “love thy neighbour”!

 

What are the different types of punishment available?

A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice which analysed data on roughly 1.5 million US prisoners  concluded that for one in four, drug treatment, community service, probation or a fine would have been a more effective sentence than a custodial sentence (prison). In our GCSE Religious Studies when we study the causes of crime, the aims of punishment and the types of punishment available, it might be worth considering whether the aim of protection and the resulting use of prisons is actually the right one: “While it may have seemed like a reasonable approach to protect the public, a comprehensive examination of the data proves it is ineffective at that task” says the study.