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Whole life sentences in the UK
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Thread: Whole life sentences in the UK

  1. #1
    Senior Member Member Diggler's Avatar
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    Whole life sentences in the UK

    Here is an article discussing the legality of whole life sentences against the background of the Human Rights Act. http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/d...e-human-rights

    Its a more complex subject than that as Europe tells us how to run our country and that gets up a lot of peoples noses. For me with its an example of the need for the death penalty. How can you control violent men who have nothing to lose. Keep them in a strait jacket 24/7. By their killing of others they show they have no respect for life and other people. Dispose of them as you would a dangerous dog.

    But thats me.

    Diggler

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    Admiral CnCP Legend JT's Avatar
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    Perhaps his strongest argument against the whole-life tariff came in a disturbing letter he wrote a few months later. "I am sitting in the segregation unit and have been for a number of weeks. I was involved in a stabbing (not fatal) on the wing. You see how I can admit in a letter to an offence as serious as that. It's because the judge when he sentenced me to natural life gave me an invisible licence that said that I can breach any laws I want, no matter how serious, and the law can't touch me. I'm above the law. I said to the governor, don't waste any money on investigations, just give me another life sentence for my collection. They don't mean anything any more."

    He subsequently stabbed in the eye Roy Whiting, the killer of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, and was a couple of weeks ago given an indefinite sentence with a notional five-year minimum jail term to serve in addition to his whole-life sentence.
    That is without a doubt the worst argument against whole-life orders that I've ever read.

    Vinter is an offender previously convicted of murder who received a sentence at the absolute lower end of the range of possible sentences for murder (life imprisonment with the minimum term fixed at ten years) and who was subsequently released almost immediately on life licence upon expiry of the tariff (which is a real rarity, to say the least). He then committed a second murder, that of his wife, and the trial judge imposed the sentence that he was required to impose by law: life imprisonment with a whole-life order made to disapply early release provisions. Vinter now openly confesses to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent (a very serious criminal offence for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment) and he STILL wonders why it is overwhelmingly in the interests of justice and protection of the public that he never be eligible to apply for parole. It is plainly idiotic to argue that his whole-life sentence drove him to wound Roy Whiting. If whole-life sentences engender a feeling of impunity and even invincibility, that is an argument if ever I saw one to reintroduce capital punishment, not to abolish whole-life sentences.

    In any case, whole-life sentences are clearly lawful and I do not foresee them disappearing any time soon.

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JT View Post
    In any case, whole-life sentences are clearly lawful and I do not foresee them disappearing any time soon.
    We would hope so, but there are those who campaign against life sentences with as much vigor as those against the death penalty!
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by JT View Post

    In any case, whole-life sentences are clearly lawful and I do not foresee them disappearing any time soon.
    I'm not so sure. The case in the ECHR was a 4-3 ruling and has just been heard by the Full Chamber (http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/61.html). It would not surprise me if they were ruled unlawful. My view (for what it's worth) is that they are unlawful and will be ruled so if not this time then in a few years.

    I find the sanctimonious attitude of some Brits that are so anti-DP in America but happy for LWOP particularly annoying.

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    Admiral CnCP Legend JT's Avatar
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    Even if the Grand Chamber rules against the Government, the ECtHR is not an insurmountable barrier to whole-life sentences. Seven years after the Hirst judgment, section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 remains on the statute books and there is a clear will in Parliament to refuse to comply with Strasbourg.

    There is a list as long as my arm of cases brought before the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords challenging the lawfulness of whole-life tariffs and none has ever been successful (Myra Hindley will confirm). Indeed, EWCA rejected a challenge to whole-life tariffs just last month, with no less persuasive authority than the Lord Chief Justice himself delivering the judgment. It is clear that whole-life orders have heretofore been regarded as perfectly lawful in English law and it is the clear and demonstrable will of Parliament that they should be available as an option to judges when imposing a mandatory life sentence in respect of a murder conviction: section 269(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides the power to impose them, and paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 21 to that Act provides clear guidelines as to where they are appropriate. Furthermore, ECtHR jurisprudence has thus far held that whole-life sentences do not breach Article 3 of the Convention and the Grand Chamber would be deviating even from its own current precedent: see Kafkaris v Republic of Cyprus (2008) (though I recognise that this was not a GC ruling).

  6. #6
    bem17356
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    Quote Originally Posted by BritAbroad View Post
    I'm not so sure. The case in the ECHR was a 4-3 ruling and has just been heard by the Full Chamber (http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/61.html). It would not surprise me if they were ruled unlawful. My view (for what it's worth) is that they are unlawful and will be ruled so if not this time then in a few years.

    I find the sanctimonious attitude of some Brits that are so anti-DP in America but happy for LWOP particularly annoying.
    Oh please! How hard can a "Whole Life Sentence" in England be. I mean it's The Ritz Carlton compared to The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola or The Florida State Penitentiary at Starke. Not to mention The Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Ever heard of "The Walls Unit!" The mere description of which is enough to kill 9 out of 10 Englishman dead and I mean dead! dead! deader! then dead! We're talking graveyard dead!

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    Admiral CnCP Legend JT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bem17356 View Post
    Oh please! How hard can a "Whole Life Sentence" in England be.
    I've been to HM Prison Wakefield, the facility at which many English whole-lifers are detained (and yes, I was allowed to leave at the end of the day!). Being forced to spend the rest of my life there would be a distinctly unpalatable proposition.

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    If the Grand Chamber rules against whole life tariffs then the UK is bound by it. The Hirst judgment is binding on the UK and the fact that Parliament is not complying with it is a disgrace and shows a contempt for the rule of law. You can't imagine a US State refusing to comply with a Supreme Court ruling.

    I don't think that the UK will get around another breach and given the tiny impact of scrapping whole life tariffs, I'm guessing the UK would just live with it.

    As to whether the ECHR will overrule it, we'll have to see. The Court of Appeal case (http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2012/2435.html) won't carry much weight with the ECHR. If it''s not now, then I think they will be outlawed in the next few years. The trend in Europe is away from life sentences generally (against the UK which has seen a huge increasing in sentencing in the last 30 years).

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    Admiral CnCP Legend JT's Avatar
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    With the greatest of respect, none of this nullifies Parliament's power to remove itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court: the pressure to remain within its jurisdiction is political rather than legal. Parliament giveth and Parliament taketh away.

    While I agree with you that the prevailing trend on the Continent has been away from frequent use of life imprisonment, I frankly just don't care what they think.

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