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Clinging on to a civilised society

4 March 2008

It is popularly said by some politicians that we live in a broken society, that Britain is broken. These last few days have brought what must be an unprecedented spate of convictions for the worst crimes imaginable outside armed conflict between nations or genocide. Two serial killers convicted inside 10 days and handed die-in-prison sentences. No wonder the prison population is overflowing.

On top of the horror of the crimes we have the horror of the attitudes of the defendants, if the reporting is faithful. There seems to be no insight or remorse, nor any psychiatric illness to explain the evil that a few people have visited on the lives of others. So unsurprisingly there is a fresh wave of comment that calls for the death penalty to be introduced. There has to be some sympathy for it; we can understand, can’t we, why it is strongly felt that there should be the ultimate penalty for the ultimate crime that has no mitigation or understanding to it. So how do we all approac...

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