Wednesday, 3 February 2010

On Killing

I don't usually say much about things like this (online at least) but it was heartening to read in the Metro this morning the comments of the father of murdered cadet Joseph Lappin with regard to the sentencing of his killers:
"There is an overwhelming feeling of sadness, not only for the loss of Joseph, but also for the waste of the lives of the young men who have been sentenced."
So often the statements reported in the press after such trials fail to reflect on the tragedy of human beings losing huge chunks of their lives to prisons. Reporters like to squeeze bereaved parents for bile and punitive zeal instead, how the criminals should have been hanged or given a tougher sentence. John Lappin's statement does not reflect any kind of sympathy with his son's murderers - it is not 'weakness' or 'liberal hand-wringing' - but a recognition of the fact that pointless killing and the subsequent imprisonment of young people is a failure of society, not just the individuals concerned, and that every part of it constitutes the 'waste'. Imprisonment is not some wonderful solution to people we don't want to share our freedom with; it's a desperate evil that is permitted only because we don't know what else to do with dangerous, broken men and women. And capital punishment is nothing but black-hearted savagery enshrined in law.

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