The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘death penalty’ tag

Yet another reason not to bring back the death penalty – Henry McCollum & Leon Brown edition

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I’m sure many people have read the story about mentally disabled half brothers Henry McCollum, 50, and Leon Brown, 46, who were convicted in 1984 of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina. That girl, 11 year-old Sabrina Buie, had been raped and suffocated with her underwear crammed down her throat, her body left in a soybean field. One of them was on death row for the crime and the other was sentenced to life imprisonment. The crime is certainly one that many people would feel passionately should deserve the ultimate punishment but there is one big issue…these two men were completely innocent.

Yesterday a judge ordered that they be released after spending three decades in jail. DNA evidence from the crime had been tested and it ruled out both men and implicated another man who is currently in prison for another crime. That man lived only a block away from where the body was found and was arrested and convicted of a very similar crime weeks after the body for this crime was discovered, however the prosecutor never even looked at him believing that he had the right people and that was that.

The lead prosecutor still believed up to a week ago that the right people were convicted, you have to worry that people like Joe Freeman Britt are allowed in positions of power. He was a bible quoting DA who sought the death penalty more than any other DA in his era, I know I struggle to believe that a Christian could be so tied to the death penalty but there you go.

One of the two men, Mr McCollom confessed to the crime following a marathon interrogation where they weren’t allowed to see their family or a lawyer. They initially came under suspicion because they were new to the small town and people saw them as outsiders. Long story short, there was no evidence against these two young men and yet one of them has spent thirty years on Death Row and to most people he should’ve been executed a long time ago. Those people no doubt would feel very little remorse today.

People will tell me that one wrong conviction shouldn’t mean anything and that mistakes happen. Mistakes do happen but if the state put to death an innocent person then that is just not on. Just because it is someone that you don’t know doesn’t mean you should feel any differently about it. If it was someone you knew that had been falsely convicted of a crime based on shaky (at best) evidence but the raw emotion had led to a jury filing a guilty verdict and a judge because of the emotion of the case imposing a death penalty then how would you feel?

The death penalty is something that I cannot stomach because of cases like these. When people say to me that it should only be used for people who are ‘guilty guilty’ and do ‘horrific crimes’ then I try and point out that we only have two verdicts in the UK, ‘Guilty’ and ‘Not Guilty’, there is no ‘Guilty Guilty’ verdict for people that are just clearly guilty of a crime. Also the people that make up a jury are human beings, they can be influenced my emotion.

I have been on a jury and have seen such a thing where people wanted to convict solely based on the crime they were accused of and not on the evidence presented. The jury system is the best we have but it isn’t perfect and in the US of A the jury can impose the death penalty in certain states and situations.

State sanctioned murder is not for me. Not for people who have committed horrific crimes and nor for those who actually hadn’t done so. Making mistakes happens to us all and sending innocent people to prison happens but they can get released and still live their lives. If they are put to death and then found they are innocent then there is no recourse.

Bringing back the Death Penalty in the UK would lead to nasty people being killed by the state but it would also no doubt lead to innocent people being put to death as well and I’d like to know what ratio of nasty people to innocent people being put to death would be acceptable to people who back the death penalty because to me, even one innocent person being slain is one too many.

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Written by neilmonnery

September 3rd, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in News

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Reason the Death Penalty is wack #268 – The Dewey Bozella story

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Ah the Death Penalty. The most extreme of sentences that can be given out by a Court of Law. In the main most Lib Dems believe that the sentence is unjust and is too far. Some don;’t but that is their call. However the majority of people in the UK would be far more open to the return of the sentence in UK law compared to those in the Lib Dem bubble. The electorate or the General Public – either/or – are far more open to mob rule and the ending of someone’s life.

Personally I’m very much against it. You can make prison a pretty unpleasant experience if you like but ending the life of another human being on purpose without their consent is just plain wrong. Yes there are some evil people out there who probably don’t deserve to share the same air as you or I but who are we to say that they don’t deserve the right to life? Just because one person is evil and one isn’t doesn’t say to say that the evil person is any less human than the person who isn’t.

Anyway we get on to the case of Dewey Bozella. He’s a 52 year-old man who made headlines at the weekend for winning his first (and according to him) only professional boxing fight. Nice story but when you look deeper the reason it made headlines is because he has spent 26 years of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The murder of an 82 year-old woman. The reason the conviction was quashed? It came to light that the Dutchess County district attorney had failed to disclose crucial evidence which would have proved Bozella’s innocence.

So the local DA had the evidence that would have proved his innocence but they decided not to disclose this. We aren’t talking a corrupt regime here – we are talking the supposed land of the free. If in the USA you can have people who whilst maybe not bent – but certainly aren’t straight in positions of power then there will always be miscarriages of justice.

A case I will always point to is the case involving Durham County’s District Attorney Mike Nifong and the Duke Lacrosse Rape case. I wonder how people would have reacted had that story been in the UK and been more prominent. There are plenty of people I know who were ready to convict the accused before due process had been reached. When the actuals facts and details came out the case collapsed and the men walked free but it goes to show that a DA might not just have justice at the forefront of their minds. They have political and racial issues to tend to as well.

Dewey Bozella was never sentenced to the death penalty but had he lived in another state then he may well have done. He didn’t commit any crime on the day in question and even though he lost 26 years of his life through no fault of his own – he still had a life and when he walked free to had a life to get back to. If he was put to death then what?

I suppose it comes down to this. If even one innocent person is put to death wrongly then the death penalty is just not on. I don’t see there to be any way you can argue against it. I see people say that the death penalty should be for those who ‘truly deserve it’ and for those we are ‘100% sure did the crime’ – well a jury was sure this man did the crime. All jury’s are sure the defendant did the crime otherwise they would convict.

Sadly a miscarriage of justice isn’t a headline any more – it happens every single day in courts up and down the country and all over the world. There are people who act for reasons beyond that of justice. You can never be 100 sure about any conviction where the defendant has protested their innocence. There will always be that small seed of doubt in the back of your mind. Is there evidence that hasn’t been put before the court? Is the evidence all accurate and not contaminated?

There will always be questions and for that reason the death penalty is not the way forward.

Guido Fawkes or Paul Staines as he is otherwise known launched an e-petition for a debate on the restoration of capital punishment in the UK a few months ago in a blaze of publicity that was picked up on by many newspapers. With several MPs backing him it seemed to have a chance but they needed 100,000 signatures on the e-petition and as of writing the blog the count stands at 21,950. This makes me happy.

Dewey Bozella – another man whose life story is another reason why the death penalty is not for me.

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Written by neilmonnery

October 17th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Politics

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Why @guidofawkes is so out of line over his e-petition to restore the Death Penalty in the UK

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My blood has boiled and cooled and boiled and cooled on this topic several times over the past few days. First of all when it got the attention it first did I was not amused as the death penalty is barbaric and is essentially state sanctioned murder and that is never a good thing. However I cooled down a bit.

Then I saw a few Lib Dems saying that they agreed with the death penalty on the latest House of Twits Vote looking at the numbers as it currently stands 27 people (and two Lib Dems) support the death penalty whereas 344 are against it. Well done twitter for being sane and as for the two Lib Dems who voted for the death penalty I wonder whether they understand what true liberalism is.

To be a liberal you believe in equality and equal and human rights. Not being controversial here but I’m relatively sure that human rights and state sanctioned murder don’t exactly fit ideologically with one another. Liberals and Liberal Democrats can have a wide range of ideas and thoughts but to not be a basic liberal and not have core liberal values and yet proport to be a Lib Dem is to me whack. Anyway that pissed me off but I cooled down a bit.

Then came the report in The Sun telling us that three MPs are backing this cause. You can read the story here but all three are Tory MPs from Philip Davies to Priti Patel to Andrew Turner.

Now I’ve had no direct conversation with any of these three although Andrew Turner was my MP for a couple of years before I left the Isle of Wight for good in 2004. I used to live less than two minutes from his constituency office and I know he’s a bit nuts and stuck in the past but heck so is most of the Isle of Wight. I still think it’s pretty impressive the Lib Dems took the Isle of Wight in 1997 but after a pretty poor term in office for Dr. Peter Brand he lost in 2001 and the Isle of Wight is sunk for the party for the foreseeable future. It is now a Tory stronghold until something dramatic happens. Anyway three MPs backing this crazy cause pissed me right off but I was able to cool down a bit.

I was cooling down until I read that Guido on twitter said that murder in this country had gone up since the death penalty was abolished. True enough but he was hinting there was a correlation in the two. He failed to observe that the murder rate had gone up in the rest of the world too and in the states in the United States of America that had reintroduced the death sentence then their rate of murder growth was similar to that of other states that did not have the death penalty. So there is seemingly no correlation between the two and having the death penalty does not make someone think twice about killing someone. So it was a great use of a piece of data without it actually meaning jack shit. That pissed me off but the F1 was and it was raining so I cooled down a bit.
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I was cool about this thinking that this wouldn’t get through but then my blood raised a bit when I read yesterday that the death penalty is something that we cannot insert into British Law unless we recede from the European Human Rights Act. The UK along with most member states of the EU signed up to Protocol 13 of the European Human Rights Act and article one of protocol 13 stats the following clear as day:

The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed.

So it seems that if we were to reintroduce the death penalty we would have to either pull out of the ECHR or would have to wriggle our way out of Protocol 13 and Protocol 6 which was is the same as Protocol 13 but does include wriggle room for the death penalty in times of war. Protocol 13 closed this loophole.

So pulling out of the ECHR is not something I’m terribly keen on. Nor is it something the public themselves should be terribly keen on. I know many people think that prisoners have it lightly (and I do to some extent as well) but they deserve basic Human Rights. Remember that many people convicted in this country are actually innocent of their crimes so taking away the rights of innocent people isn’t something we should ever aspire to.

So yeah that pissed me off and I cooled down a bit as my attention was taken away by Gordon Ramsay and a new series of Hell’s Kitchen USA but then whilst reading Guido’s original e-petition again my blood went and I felt compelled to write a lengthy blog post and rant about the shit that he is shovelling. I did have to calm down a bit first so I tidied up my apartment as someone is coming to syay on Thursday and the spare time is basically my junk room – anyway that’s by the by and no-one cares about that.

Guido’s e-petition says the following:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

Can anyone see what would make my blood boil so much in that e-petition?

I’ll make it clearer:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

Yes. Guido and all the signatures that he is amassing for this e-petition are basically saying that murder isn’t just murder and that some people’s lives are worth more than others. That to me is one of the most abhorrent things that I have ever read. I don’t give a stuff about people’s political persuasions but I do think that most of us unless we are evil, racist, sexist, moronic believe in the basic principle that all human life is equal. To say that is isn’t to me makes you out to be not only a sick person but also one that believes in inequality. The world isn’t perfect but if we put to the people of this country that policemen are more valuable and important to society than teachers, doctors, nurses, cleaners, SEO consultants then we are portraying a myth that we are all born equal.

Also by backing this e-petition then you are saying quite firmly that ‘murder is not just murder’ and there are murders of varying degrees. Now two and a half months ago Ken Clarke got into all sorts of hot water over saying that ‘rape is not just rape’ and saying there were varying degrees of crime that all fall under the rape shield. There was uproar not only on twitter but also in the newspapers and in the pubs. To say that there are varying degrees of crime was heresy but when it comes to murder – which in all honesty is just as bad of a crime at least – then people are fine with saying the murder of policeman and children is worse than killing any other human being.

C’mon folks that is horse expletive of the highest order. Now if you want to have a debate about the reintroduction of the death penalty then that is fine and due process should take place. I have no problems with that although I would be about as against it ever becoming law as I could be but the debate is fair and legitimate. However if you want to say that some people are more important and more valuable and worthwhile as human beings – which is what you are doing if you say the murder of children and police officers killed in the line of duty should be rated as a worse crime than any other murder then I think you have some serious issues and should look at yourself long and hard in the mirror.

We all came into this world kicking and screaming our little heads off and there is no reason whatsoever to ever believe that one human is more important than the next. Every single one of us has a mother and a father and to say to a mother and father that their son or daughter is worth less than the son or daughter of another couple is the biggest type of wrong imaginable.

So I urge you all not to sign the petition that Guido Fawkes has put forward as written. If you do then you are saying loud and proud that not all human beings are the same and do you really want to say that? Do you really think that some people are worth more than others?

I’m pretty positive that you don’t.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 2nd, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Neil Rants,Politics

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A campaign to bring back the death penalty? Please God No.

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So Guido Fawkes is launching a campaign to reinstate the death penalty and my heart sinks that little bit lower.

I like to think that most people in this country are level-headed and open-minded, I say I like to think that but of course whether that is true or not I have no idea. He links to a poll that says that 50% of people would be happy to see people hang for murder. I just had a shiver run down my spine. I know many of you reading this will think that I’m just a bleeding heart liberal but the general belief is that around one quarter of all convictions are dodgy.

I used to work with a former prison officer and he told me that he knew a good proportion of those inside were innocent but he didn’t give a toss. Someone can have a life after they are released from prison if they were innocent but if you kill them then you can never take that back. Innocent people go down all the time and sadly that will always happen. So how can we as a society ever justify killing an innocent person?

Also if we were to kill those who were given the death penalty then aren’t we as bad and barbaric as those who commit these crimes? Someone administering a lethal injection or putting someone in a noose and then opening a trap door is an cold-blooded as the person they are committing to death – the only difference is the state would be okaying it but when can you ever justify a murder? A state mandated murder would be ok and a different kettle of fish to a real life murder. Nah not for me…

You can never reverse a death penalty and even if you only kill a few innocent people then that is a few too many. It is better to set a guilty person free than to find an innocent person guilty. That is something I have always believed in and always will. It is fundamental to my core beliefs and something I had in the forefront of my mind when I first did jury duty and when the stakes are that high then it is putting even more pressure on a jury to reach a verdict knowing they are debating a persons right to live and not just the matter of guilt or innocence.

If the death penalty was reinstated then torture I suspect wouldn’t be far behind. I’m not sure what world the majority of people would like to live in but a world without tirture and the death penalty sounds pretty good to me.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 29th, 2011 at 11:07 am

Posted in Politics

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