A life for a life?

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Although I am sympathetic towards Eileen Stennett’s view (Star Letters, June 8, 2015) that someone who takes another’s life should forfeit their own, I think there are a couple of reasons for persevering with locking killers up rather than putting them down.

One is that every so often the wrong person is convicted. Currently, there is hope that a wrongly convicted individual can be freed on appeal. Reinstating the use of the gallows would mean a subsequent exoneration after execution would be of little value.

However, the key reason for sticking with imprisonment rather than reintroducing the death sentence is that juries can be very reluctant to convict someone, even when they consider them guilty, if the punishment laid down for the offence is a death sentence. Better to have killers locked up if the alternative is that juries let them walk free.

What would be worth looking at is the length of time behind bars actually served by prisoners sentenced to life. I understand that currently lifers serve an average of 14 years in prison. Given the decades lost by murder victims and the long and deep pain suffered by their families, 14 years seems far too lenient.

Jon Ball