By Patrick Brogan
Ian Brady, the notorious Moors Murderer, is dead. Whilst I don’t think many will mourn his death, it does bring up some unresolved issues. The main one being, he has taken the burial place of Keith Bennett with him. Bennett’s mother died in 2012, never knowing where her son was buried.
His death also brings up how to deal with people who murder and murder defenceless children and teenagers in particular. Most, if not all, of the victims were sexual assaulted and tortured before they were killed. Brady described these as “recreational killings”. He never showed any remorse. Many have said he should have seen the hangman’s noose. It’s difficult to argue against such views given Brady’s heinous crimes.
The UK, like Ireland, abolished the death penalty years ago. Closer integration within the UN and EU saw many countries do likewise. Many feared this would see increased lawlessness. It didn’t happen. In most developed countries, the murder rate went down in the 20th Century. However, does that mean in certain circumstances the death penalty should not be used?
Well, there are certain things to be considered. In the Western world, most prison facilities are seen as institutions of reform. It clearly didn’t work on Brady. There are obvious reasons not to have it. What if it turns out the person was innocent after all? The person who pushes the button or injects the needle will have to live with that for the rest of their life. It’s easy to be an armchair warrior calling for the death penalty when you don’t have to deal with the fallout. There are many examples in the US, where people were just minutes from being executed before being reprieved and proved innocent.
Mental illness must also be considered. Should members of this section of society also be put to death even if they committed the worst of crimes? This is not easy to answer. What about chemical castration for the worst sex offenders? If the old argument of rape being about power and not sex turns out to be true, then that won’t solve the problem either. There is also the notion of death itself. Is it okay for children to murdered in war?
Maybe it is better to leave them to rot in prison, but more work must be done on why these crimes took place in the first place. It is easy to say these people are evil, but why are they like that? What made them carry out such horrible crimes? Society is producing less Ian Bradys but they are still out there and we as a society have to ask why that is. Otherwise, we will never solve it.
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