It occurred to me yesterday when I was ranting about the rapper XXXShotdeadinhiscar# that perhaps I was being a bit mean. So once I’d posted I took another look at his rap sheet (pun intended) and quite reasonably decided that I had made a good point. In doing all that it also dawned on me that, yes, Peter Sutcliffe is still alive and chewing up hundreds of thousands of tax pounds a year. And this annoyed me, because it is quite reasonable, since he’s been in jail for decades, to assume that at least one of my tax pounds has helped keep him there. I rather resent that.
Over the years I’ve always harboured a quiet desire to see the death penalty re-introduced. Not for any old thing of course. I wouldn’t want to go back hundreds of years to a time when a man could have his tongue cut out and replaced by his testicles, and then be hanged, drawn and quartered, beheaded and finally set on fire just for looking funny at one of the King’s rabbits. However I do think the concept of jail as place for rehabilitation is laughable in some cases. Look at Jeffrey Archer, he’s been to jail and he’s just as much of a wanker now as he was before. At least we don’t see quite so much of him these days.
The prisons are overcrowded, we are repeatedly told, but no-one seems to want to build new ones. Paranoid schizophrenics are mistakenly released and then stab someone in the eye outside the prison gates before a daft clerk realises there has been an equally daft clerical error. And there are people in our jails simply rotting away for terrible crimes they committed 40 years ago. You cannot look at those people and not wonder if the world would just be a little better if they had been buried a lot earlier.
Ian Brady had clearly not rehabilitated one bit before he met his long overdue demise. He knew he would never get out so what would be the point in making the effort? Ditto Myra Hindley. Good old Dennis Nilsen passed away recently and by the sounds of it he was still only interested in one person and that was himself. Most people under 30 had probably never heard of him and I strongly suspect the ‘Free Our Dennis’ support group membership was safely tucked into single figures. And they would have been very warped anyway.
But on the other hand the prospect of long term imprisonment can have an upside. Such was the level of rehabilitative care offered to Harold Shipman and Fred West that they both decided to aim for real self improvement and promptly committed suicide. Well done, you pair of pricks. And this leads us back to Sutcliffe who claimed that the voice of God himself urged him to murder as many prostitutes as his hairy, hammer hands could get a hold of. If he could have proved that God really was behind his murderous efforts then the church would have some pretty awkward questions to answer. That said I prefer to wonder why, upon realising the error of his poor advice, God could then have just similarly urged Sutcliffe to hang himself with a bed sheet and be done with it. Hey presto – several millions quid to help tackle child poverty.
So, in conclusion I think that maybe the death penalty wouldn’t be a bad thing so long as we were absolutely 100% sure that guilt was proven and the level of crime suited the penalty. Or the other way around. I wonder what prisons are really for these days, because it doesn’t seem like they work very well. If we had the Mexican prison system over here (I realise I’m using the word ‘system’ by it’s very loosest definition) then someone like Peter Sutcliffe would have lasted about 2 days and everyone would be a bit happier. And we should also follow up all those crimes caused by the ‘voice of God’. Let’s stick Him in Broadmoor and see how He likes it.
G B Hewitt. 01.07.2018