Sunday, 12 November 2006

capital punishment

Yesterday we spent the evening with Chris and Tamra. We watched Pierrepoint, a movie about a man who was one of Britain's hangmen. What a difficult job he had to exact justice on condemned criminals. The movie was really thought-provoking. He carried out his duties with great dignity, caring for the bodies after the hanging especially tenderly. He said that the executed had paid their price and so they were now innocent and so their bodies deserved proper treatment. He did his job effectively by detaching himself from the people he met. Mr Pierrepoint had difficulties in his marriage since his wife banned him from talking about his work at home. When an execution of someone he knew started to cause him to become emotionally battered he had no one to turn to.

Mr Pierrepoint was involved in executing Nazis after the Neuremburg trials and for this he was hailed as a hero by the people in his town. On the other hand, he was hated at another time because an innocent man was executed. He found that as the years went on it was more and more difficult to do his job as public opinion turned and his emotions became more caught up in the people he executed.

At the end of his life he finally made his opinions about capital punishment known. In his autobiography he wrote: "I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people.... The trouble with the death penalty has always been that nobody wanted it for everybody, but everybody differed about who should get off."

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