UK MP pro-death penalty


By Finn Bunting

The UK’s new Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions supports the reintroduction of the death penalty because she believes it would be a deterrent for criminals. 

Tory MP Priti Patel

Tory MP Priti Patel


Priti Patel, Conservative MP for the Witham constituency in Essex, was speaking on BBC’s Question Time programme in September 2011: 

“I have said this before and I say this again: I do think that when we have a criminal justice system that continuously fails in the country and where we have seen murderers and rapists … reoffend and do those crimes again and again I think that’s appalling… On that basis alone I would support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent.”

Despite there being no proof that capital punishment acts as a deterrent to crime, the issue is something Patel seems to have in common with her Conservative colleague Michael Gove, who as a newspaper columnist for The Times supported the return of the death penalty. 

Gove claimed his support was based on “respect for democracy”. 

“[Abolishing the death penalty] has led to a corruption of our criminal justice system, the erosion of all our freedoms and has made the punishment of the innocent more likely, as it had come with the Home Secretary being given the power to impose whole-life tariffs. Hanging may seem barbarous, but the greater barbarity lies in the slow abandonment of our common law traditions … I would prefer a fair trial, under the shadow of the noose.”

The UK has traditionally been at the forefront of the anti-Capital Punishment movement,  leading the charge in restricting the export of death penalty drugs to the United States, in 2011, under the direction of Liberal Democrat Vince Cable - a move the rest of the European Union followed in 2011.  

A country cannot be a member of the European Union and have the death penalty as a punishment, as its abolition is a condition of membership. But with an EU membership referendum seemingly on its way who knows what the future holds? 

Guilty, but Boston Bomber is unlikely to face execution

By Finn Bunting

Despite prosecutors attempts, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is unlikely to be sentenced to death, even though jurors found him guilty on all 30 counts - with 17 capital charges, carrying a possible death penalty. 

Tsarnaev, along with brother Tamerlan, exploded two devices on April 15, 2013, causing the deaths of three people and injuries to an estimated 264 others. The brothers escaped and allegedly killed a police officer before a large-scale manhunt ended with Tamerlan’s death and Dzhokhar’s capture. 

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev: "If not in this case, then when?" former federal prosecutor Allison Burroughs told CNN. But some legal experts are saying this would be difficult in liberal Boston, which also has a large Catholic community (Pope Francis opposes capital punishment).

In a poll taken in 2013, 57 per cent of respondents supported a life sentence, compared to 33 per cent in support of the death penalty for Tsarnaev. This view is echoed by a Boston Globe editorial

In a Boston Herald article, University of Calif­ornia Berkeley professor Frank Zimring is quoted as saying: “There are a lot of people who would want him to die, of course, but the question of killing as part of the rebuilding of Boston ... that’s going to be a very tough sell.”

Another important factor is that to impose the death penalty, the jury must be unanimous in its decision – and getting all 12 jurors to agree on a death sentence for Tsarnaev will be difficult for the prosecution.

Speaking to CNN, Lillian Campbell, who lost her granddaughter Krystle Campbell, said: "When they came out with this part about the death sentence ... I said, well, I don't really care what they do with them. Because whatever they do, it's not going to bring her back … I’ll never forget her, ever, no matter how much they say. Or what they do with the guy who did it. So I wouldn't wish anyone dead. I wouldn't."