Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lifer should mean Life.. .again

It never ceases to astound me just how many prisoners contain fascist urges, advocating law and order policies which might make Himmler wince.
Cornered by two such proto-fascists, I was berated ("nothing personal...") with the concept that "life should mean life" for murderers. Haven't I heard that dim-witted slogan a thousand times before? And addressed it in previous posts!
The problem with that idea is that the definition of murder is far, far broader than the common mind appreciates. No intent to kill is necessary. All that is required is an intent to cause serious harm, and death resulting. That intent can be inferred from the circumstances.
The legal conception of murder, then, encompasses old ladies who administer a lethal drug at their dying husbands request; through to the craziest of serial killers. And this is where the "life should mean life" chant begins to waver.
It turns out that, faced with these facts, what people actually mean is that Life should mean Life only for the murders that they themselves find particularly awful. And grannies bitten by the euthanasia bug are not included. Odd, that.
These glitches in the argument aside, I argue from a more heartfelt position. That no person is irredeemable. And that no amount of suffering inflicted on a murderer alters the endless fact that a person is dead.


  1. In complete agreement with you here Ben, "That no person is irredeemable. And that no amount of suffering inflicted on a murderer alters the endless fact that a person is dead." I have argued this for so long now from as far back as my early days at school. It makes perfect sense.

    What doesn't make sense though are those who create false categories and lines between people in order to make themselves feel better; i.e they may be such and such but at least they are not so and so ... type going nowhere mentality. I do feel sorry those people though as underneath they probably don't feel good about themselves, hence why they pick on others. But while they point the finger, someone else is judging them.

    A better way is to rise above the false divisions placed on us, rise above it and have some humanity and understanding, that is truly what we are on this earth for

  2. I'm current studying Dutch law, and thought this might be of interest.

    Article 287 Dutch Criminal Code (translate)

    A person who intentionally takes the life of another is guilty of murder (Doodslag) and liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than 15 years or a fine of the fifth category

    "or a fine..."

    I should point that 15 years is not the maximum, as articles 288 and 289 which contain aggravating factors or premeditated murder (moord) have maximums of 20 years.

    However, there is no minimum sentence. There is no mandatory sentence. If you kill someone, it is possible to be simply fined, or just set free.

    That's not to say murder would go unpunished. However, cases where the person has only just fallen outside the law or is otherwise not seen as Blameworthy would receive such light penalties, whereas in the UK, its life.

  3. Sounds like the Dutch have got sensible views on this matter. Sophie is right there is nobody who is 'irredeemable' and society should understand this. Obviously re-habilitation takes place at different levels for different people and some people will remain a higher risk than others - but please let proper assessments of this take place and it would be good if human beings would stop making judgements on others - it could be them next.

    Have a good Xmas Ben and please keep writing.


  4. Have u all lost your minds, so under dutch law Ian huntley is five years away from release. Off u go Ian all rehabilitated don't murder any school girls will you old chap. Personally the 40 year tariff he got was to short but still. We are talking about the most heinous of crimes murder and it must be met with appropriate sentences. God forbid any of your relatives getting murdererd can I really see you saying 15 years that's an appropriate sentence, he won't be doing that again. That will teach him.

  5. Firstly, read what I wrote. Doodslag does not have the same meaning as murder under English law. Neither does Moord. These translations do not work because there is not equivalent. Doodslag is killing with intent but no premeditation. Under English law, the "malice aforethought" element of Murder is just that you meant to kill them, or knew killing was virtually certain.

    Article 289 and 288 both allow for life imprisonment if the murder is coupled with aggravated factors or is a moord (premeditated). So it is unlikely that someone who kills with that level of severity would receive a tariff of only 15 years.

    I will also caution that the meanings given to murder are different to the English meanings, and a lot of things that fall under the English catch all definition falls under several different categories. There are 9 articles of the criminal code setting out different offences of killing with intent and the punishments that are available.

    But that is all somewhat a digression, The basic point is that Dutch law accepts that not every intentional killing is deserving of life. English law does not make allowances, and as a result of closing a loophole in the voluntary manslaughter provisions in 2010, has actually got worse in recent years.

  6. "No person is irredeemable"

    I bet you don't let that guy who hid a phone in your word processor near your stuff anymore.

    Best to realise the prejudices one still nutures before being surprised other people nurture ones from a similar source.

  7. There are many people who do forgive and forget, turn the other cheek and give others another chance after their having made a mistake or committed sin against them. How one individual responds to something is not universal or across the board, it is not, nor should be how society responds as a whole.

  8. Callan - feel free not to make assumptions as to how I feel about, or respond to, those who may have done me harm.


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