Recently there was an horrific case where a mother decided her child would be better off dead than alive without her, and forced her autistic 12 year old son to drink bleach. I read a lot of comments in the press excusing the mother because she was unstable, and because of the difficulties in raising a non-verbal child.Aye, right DDT, Huntley was in Rampton before he was judged fit to stand trial and since sentencing has served his time in jail ( with the odd spell in hospital). That seemed a reasonable decision to me. I suppose I was trying to make the point, though probably not very well, that it is very hard to determine the extent to which people are bonkers or not. The bonkers defence saved Rudolph Hess from the rope and I still don't think anyone really knows just how deranged he was.
There are cases where there is no "reasonable doubt" - Myra Hyndley, Ian Brady, Peter Sutcliffe, Ian Huntley etc etc.
Three of those, Sutcliffe, Huntley and Brady are locked up in institutions for the criminally insane etc, etc.
Point of order. I'm pretty sure that Ian Huntley is still in a mainstream prison and has never spent time in a psychiatric institution. Also, don't forget that Ian Brady was fit to plea at his trial and didn't enter psychiatric care until he'd been behind bars for nearly twenty years.
I don't believe in the biblical eye for an eye but the question I was raising is whether the death penalty is right for someone who is "not all there". But a kind of reverse Catch 22 argument is that you have to be wrong in the head to murder someone. There are also degrees of bonkersness in the judicial system. One does not need to be totally off one's rocker to pursue a claim for diminished responsibility.
Another argument against the death penalty is the question of whether it is good for society as a whole. Evidence has been presented in the past recording rises in violent crime around the time of executions.
It also seems pretty clear that many murderers are products of deprived or violent families and sometimes the origins of this violence were what we might call "state sponsored". Mira Hindley's father was an ex-para in the Second World War when his propensity for violence against the enemy would have been regarded as commendable. But when he applied this violence to the upbringing of his daughter it created a woman not only anaesthetised to suffering but probably also taking pleasure from exercising power and seeing others suffer.
Meeting brutality with brutality is not the way to create a civilised society.
One can only imagine how the boy must have suffered before he died. Whether it was madness, despair, or any combination of both on the mother's part, I have to admit that this is where the eye-for-an eye stuff starts sounding good to me. However I am opposed to the death penalty for all of the reasons Godot and the others mentioned and also because her death would not bring the child back.
It was fundamentally wrong for this woman to play god with her child's life, and in my opinion it would be just as wrong for the state to take this same responsibility regarding the mother's life upon itself, for whatever reason.