Some really interesting stuff here.
Yes, in the USA it costs more to execute someone than incarcerate them and it is said that keeping someone on death row for 20 years in unhumane. This is a choice though. When the UK had the death penalty it was carried out swiftly. Timothy Evans was tried on 11th Jan 1950, his appeal was heard on 20th Feb and he was hung on 9th March. So it can be done quickly. OK, he was actually innocent but at least it was quick. Neville Heath was tried on 24th September 1946 and executed on 16th October.
I've never really understood the argument of "you don't teach people that killing someone is wrong, by killing someone who kills". That's like saying that ""you don't teach people that locking someone up against their will is wrong, by locking up someone who does this" When of course that's what we do. Same with issuing a fine for theft.
I was actually reading Albert Pierrepont's biography last week. He was the UK's chief hangman for many years and executed over 400 people. He says that in his opinion the death penalty never prevented a single murder and he came to strongly oppose capital punishment. Now obviously the world has moved on since the last execution in the UK but he said:
It is said to be a deterrent. I cannot agree. There have been murders since the beginning of time, and we shall go on looking for deterrents until the end of time. If death were a deterrent, I might be expected to know. It is I who have faced them last, young men and girls, working men, grandmothers. I have been amazed to see the courage with which they take that walk into the unknown. It did not deter them then, and it had not deterred them when they committed what they were convicted for. All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment convince me that in what I have done I have not prevented a single murder.
Of course Lee Rigby's killer tried on the day to be martyrs. They tried to get the police to shoot them. So what sort of deterrent would the death penalty have been?
I for one am glad to live in a society where we don't carry out un reversible justice. Whilst I don't want Lee Rigby's killers to ever be released, they may still contribute to society from prison. They certainly couldn't from a grave.
I think a good day for British justice, but I still feel desperately sad for Lee Rigby's family.