Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned


10:01 am - January 5th 2012

by Tim Fenton    


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A recent addition to all the other supposedly campaigning groups out there has been one called Restore Justice.

It is a front group lobbying for restoration of capital punishment. Who is behind this group? It will surprise no-one that Restore Justice is fronted by Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes.

Staines has taken his idea and, er, waddled with it, starting a petition on the Government’s e-petitions site, and overseeing a propaganda initiative which has asserted that murder rates had doubled since the abolition of the death penalty.

Predictably, this assertion is not true, and Staines had his knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) yesterday, which said the advert was ‘misleading’.

This is a polite way of calling out Staines for telling whoppers.

The assertion was stood up by taking figures from 1964 – which was the date of the last hanging, and not the date of actual abolition, which came in 1969.

Moreover, the period on which Restore Justice is basing its claim ends in 1997, which is fourteen years ago. Murder rates since then have not been considered by the campaign.

Does this matter? Well, yes it does: in 2008/9 the UK recorded its lowest murder rate for 20 years.

The intentional homicide rate for the UK fell from 1.71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to just 1.17 in 2009. By contrast, the USA, where many states still execute, went from 5.5 to 5.0 in the same period, while Russia, which also executes, went from 28 to 15.

The figures do not support the central argument behind the Restore Justice campaign, that executing convicted murderers would somehow provide sufficient deterrent in itself to lower the murder rate. Once again Guido has shot himself in the foot.

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Tim is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more frequently at Zelo Street
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Reader comments


Deterrence works far less that people assume, and for a very logical reason: Criminals do not think they get caught when they commit a crime. Hence, they don’t factor in the possible sentence. Criminals are more deterred by a high risk of being caught. (More about deterrence and other attempts to justify punishment in my paper: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/punishment-reason-constraint/)

FENTON! FENTON! FENTOOOOOOOOON!

oh jesus christ

Staines is an utter idiot.

A great poster boy for Right Wing stupidity.

Actually the ad hasn’t been banned, although Staines has had his knuckles rapped over it.

He is currently unapologetic over the affair and claims that FullFact backs him up, although their assessment is rather more nuanced.

5. EvilEuropean

Bring back the death penalty would also require the UK to leave the EU, though I’m sure that just a coincidence.

The intentional homicide rate for the UK fell from 1.71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to just 1.17 in 2009. By contrast, the USA, where many states still execute, went from 5.5 to 5.0 in the same period, while Russia, which also executes, went from 28 to 15.

This is partly a function of better medical responses isn’t it? What are the statistics on attempted murder/GBH over the same period?

I don’t agree with Guido’s position on this, but I’m distinctly uncomfortable with the ASA having jurisdiction over non-commercial political advertising.

If it was in the context of a referendum/election or on TV/radio, it would be dealt with by the Electoral Commission or OfCom on fairness grounds. As there seems to be no consumer protection angle (unless they are fundraising, or soliciting donations?) I’d suggest that there’s an Article 10 claim begging to be brought.

He’d have been more honest if he’d just claimed execution was a good way for killing off criminals. Assuming there ain’t a fit up or other miscarriage of justice involved anyway…

Russia hasn’t had an execution since 1996.

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 7

“If it was in the context of a referendum/election or on TV/radio, it would be dealt with by the Electoral Commission or OfCom on fairness grounds.”

No it wouldn’t. The false claims in the No to AV ads went unaddressed (with the ASA and Electoral Commission both claiming it wasn’t their mandate). You might be right about the legal basis of this scenario, but if so, that just shows we need better oversight of political claims.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 4 Tim

“Actually the ad hasn’t been banned, although Staines has had his knuckles rapped over it.”

Weeelll… the ad “must not appear again in its current form”, which is the closest the ASA gets. Assuming that the ASA’s authority is recognised, it is effectively a ban.

@ Andreas,

“Deterrence works far less that people assume, and for a very logical reason: Criminals do not think they get caught when they commit a crime. Hence, they don’t factor in the possible sentence. Criminals are more deterred by a high risk of being caught.”

That’s a fair point when applied to crimes with low clear up rates – e.g. burglary and shoplifting. But it doesn’t apply so obviously in the case of murder, which has a very high clear up rate in the UK – over 90%. So there is already a deterrent there, yet people go ahead and do it anyway, perhaps under the impression they will be part of the magical 10% (approx) who get lucky.

In case anyone is interested.

Also, with the caveat that this is from Wikipedia, UK homocide rate per 100k population had approximately doubled from 1964/1969 to late last decade, and using England & Wales, the doubling works well to 2010 as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate_to_1999
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

1964 0.63 (England & Wales), 0.07 (NI), 0.98 (Scotland) = approx 0.64 UK
1969 0.68 (England & Wales), 0.79 (NI), 1.57 (Scotland) = approx 0.75 UK
.
.
.
1997 1.24 (England & Wales), 2.51 (NI), 1.72 (Scotland)
1999 1.45 (whole UK)
2000 1.71 (whole UK)
2001 1.79 (whole UK)
2002 2.10 (whole UK)
2003 1.75 (whole UK)
2004 1.60 (whole UK)
2005 1.38 (whole UK)
2006 1.42 (whole UK)
2007 1.46 (whole UK)
2008 1.26 (whole UK)
2009 1.17 (whole UK)
2010 1.17 (whole UK)

So the claim of has doubled is broadly correct if you’re looking at England & Wales figures. It would be broadly correct for whole UK if you run from last hanging in 1964 (as they did) rather than abolition in 1969 to 2007. Problem with whole UK figures (over the entire period) is distortion by Northern Ireland troubles.

It’s not a perfect stat, I think it could be expressed more accurately if you were seeking to educate, but in the pantheon of political misuse of statistics, it’s not in the same league as the bar charts my local Lib Dems use!!

Re Chaise Guevara – you’re correct! Should have read *If anybody was inclined to deal with it, it would legally fall within the remit of…*

So there is already a deterrent there, yet people go ahead and do it anyway, perhaps under the impression they will be part of the magical 10% (approx) who get lucky.

But how many would go a-murderin’ if the clear-up rate was lower?

Andreas/Lamia: ask any detective, she’ll tell you the vast majority of murders are ones where rational thought never entered into the equation. Domestic violence, drunken pub fight, drug-addled lunacy where nobody can even remember what happened – in all these cases, detection is a case of finding the bloke in the corner with the bloodstains and not screwing up the chain of evidence.

Conclusions: #1 – deterrence is irrelevant in the cases above; #2 – if you’re going to commit an actual Agatha Christie type murder that you’ve thought through and for which deterrence might just about apply, your chances of getting away with it are a damn sight higher than 10%.

@11

This is my original post:

http://zelo.tv/wUtsFK

– so far Staines has refused AFAIK to take down the advert, claiming that FullFact backs him up, although they don’t.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Tim

Well, I’m not sure what actual authority the ASA can bring to bear over internet adverts. It’s annoying that an organisation dedicated to honesty and accuracy (as I believe FullFact to be) can be abused by people like Guido, although I’m sure it’s also inevitable.

Firstly, as any fule kno, advances in medical science have made it that much more likely that a victim of an attempted murder will survive. There is a well known paper that looked at the US, which showed that if you factor out this effect, the murder rate has exploded.

Secondly, it’s easy to pick start date and end dates so that you can quote any change you like. For example, between 1965 and 1995, the murder rate more than doubled in the UK.

Let me quote a govt publication (published in 2000):

“Since the early 1960s the number of homicides per million population has more than doubled.”

parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-111.pdf

Are you claiming that the abolition of the death penalty explains none of this change?

BTW, per your Guardian report, a fall to 1989 rates would seem to indicate that the murder rate fell from the all time mid ’90s high of ~14 per million to… ~13 per million.

On the deterrent argument, surely the logical conclusion is the deterrent effect of capital punishment must be the greater the more excruciating the means of execution and the more public the display for all to witness the suffering, an insight appreciated by the authorities in Iran.

Our ancestors were quite wise about this. When criminals could be hanged for petty crimes, they realised that something extra special was necessary for really serious crimes so hanging, drawing and quartering in public was devised, a fate endured by Guy Fawkes and his surviving fellow conspirators in January 1606. Mind you, for fear of offending public susceptibilities, it was decreed that women would be burned at the stake instead to preserve public decency.

If capital punishment comes back, Britain is dead.

In case any readers aren’t yet up to speed on what hanging, drawing and quartering entailed, try this for the exquisite detail, although reader discretion is strongly advised:
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hdq.html

As there described: hanging, drawing and quartering was “one of the most sadistic forms of execution ever invented.”

Dear God. You actually link to the adjudication yet manage to get what it said entirely wrong.

1. Upheld

The ASA noted that the Parliamentary Report provided by Restore Justice documented the homicide rate in England & Wales over the period 1900–1997 and was concerned that the evidence used to support the claim was more than ten years old. We further noted, although the report stated that since the early 1960s the number of homicides per million head of population had more than doubled, it specified that the term homicide included murder, manslaughter and infanticide. We noted that the article provided by Restore Justice, on an independent fact checking website, had concluded that the claim could be “backed up”, but went on to state “given the right caveats”. We considered that, because the report referred specifically to homicide between the early 1960s and 1997, and not to current statistics for murder, Restore Justice had failed to justify the claim in the context used in the ad. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).

If Staines had said that, from 65 to 97 the homicide rate doubled then he’d have been fine (accurate, rather than fine perhaps).

@20 Chris

I think the clock is already ticking….. there isn’t any prospect of it being re-introduced, but even if there were, the demise of the UK is much more likely to come at the hands of the SNP than the “hang ’em, flog ’em!” brigade.

Any sources of information on the number of murder convictions which were subsequently overturned on appeal – some after several decades – on the grounds that the convictions were unsound on the basis of the evidence or witness testimony at the original trial or because of later evidence, such as the results of DNA tests?

The man is a prize tool. Does anybody really take him seriously?

27. Leon Wolfeson

@22 – It’s in breach, and he’s refusing to take it down. That means an OFT prosecution.

28. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 Tim

“If Staines had said that, from 65 to 97 the homicide rate doubled then he’d have been fine (accurate, rather than fine perhaps).”

Well, yes. If Staines had presented information honestly he wouldn’t have been called up for being dishonest.

29. ex-Labour voter

Paul Staines is an extremely odious man.

He names his website after somebody whose plot, if it had succeeded, would have killed an awful lot of people. It would probably have also led to a backlash and pogroms against Catholics too.

30. John Riches

I happen to think that some of Guido’s campaigns have been useful – Damian McBride’s skewering was a corker – and his site is worth a visit most days, but I disagree over his death penalty petition; when I saw that he was using an image of Joanna Yeates in order to publicise his petition, I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t have had the permission of her parents to do so. So I e-mailed Guido; ‘You’re keen on the death penalty, and understandably you want to bolster the petition. But how can you, in all conscience, use a quote from the incredibly distressed family of Joanna Yeates to direct people to your petition – which, if enacted, would make absolutely no difference to the Tabak sentence (in that the petition specifies child- and police-killers). Seriously, how can you?.’ His reply, in its entirety, was ‘campaigning is campaigning’. Which I think goes to show what an unpleasant man he is.

31. Robin Levett

Would anyone who believes that capital punishment deters murder care to hazard a guess at whether murder rates are higher or lower (and which way they are trending) in US states that practise, or don’t practise, capital punishment?

Tim,

Thanks for that–I stand corrected re homocide vs murder rates.

Robin,

But that would be bad statistical practice. Here’s a commonly used example in intro econometrics that might help explain why. Is hospital bad for your health? If we examine any health outcome metric, then we might easily conclude that it is, because people who are ill tend to use hospitals more than people who are not.

33. Robin Levett

@vimothy #31:

Your underlying argument being that if the capital punishment states didn’t have capital punishment, then their murder rates would be still higher?

34. Robin Levett

…to which my response would be that any society barbaric enough to allow its government to kill its citizens when it chooses is a society that values human life sufficiently cheaply that it would not be surprising to see a high murder rate as a feature of that society.

35. So Much For Subtlety

Staines has taken his idea and, er, waddled with it, starting a petition on the Government’s e-petitions site, and overseeing a propaganda initiative which has asserted that murder rates had doubled since the abolition of the death penalty.

I wonder what the Advertising Standards Authority would say about calling this campaign propaganda?

Moreover, the period on which Restore Justice is basing its claim ends in 1997, which is fourteen years ago. Murder rates since then have not been considered by the campaign.

There were 650 murders in 1997. The rate continued to climb, to over 1000 in 2002 I think offhand. They tend went down a little until in 2008 there were 651. In other words, the distinction is irrelevant as they are virtually the same – and what is more, at no time between 1997 and 2008 did the number of murders drop below 650. Not once.

Does this matter? Well, yes it does: in 2008/9 the UK recorded its lowest murder rate for 20 years.

When it tied with 1997. In other words this is a specious objection.

The intentional homicide rate for the UK fell from 1.71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to just 1.17 in 2009. By contrast, the USA, where many states still execute, went from 5.5 to 5.0 in the same period, while Russia, which also executes, went from 28 to 15.

And how did Jamaica, which does not execute, do? Or South Africa? Or Venezuela – which has a higher murder rate than Iraq did before the Surge?

Anyone can cherry pick.

The figures do not support the central argument behind the Restore Justice campaign, that executing convicted murderers would somehow provide sufficient deterrent in itself to lower the murder rate. Once again Guido has shot himself in the foot.

Well the number of murders started to soar just before the abolition – they had been stable at around 200-300 for a few years. They peaked at over 1000.

This is despite the fact that murder has been defined down – many crimes that were murders then are not now. This is despite the fact that medical treatment has improved massively so many people survive who would have died back then.

In other words, Staines really does have a point. They got him on an irrelevant technicality which suggests bias from the ASA.

36. So Much For Subtlety

1. Andreas Moser

Deterrence works far less that people assume, and for a very logical reason: Criminals do not think they get caught when they commit a crime. Hence, they don’t factor in the possible sentence. Criminals are more deterred by a high risk of being caught.

I am sorry but criminals don’t think they will get caught so punishment doesn’t matter, but the risk of getting caught, the very thing they don’t think about, does matter?

Can you tease that out for me a little – they simultaneously know and yet don’t know they will get caught? They are like a cat trapped in some insane German’s box?

37. So Much For Subtlety

31. Robin Levett

Would anyone who believes that capital punishment deters murder care to hazard a guess at whether murder rates are higher or lower (and which way they are trending) in US states that practise, or don’t practise, capital punishment?

America is a big place with very different cultures. Whether or not the South executes people more is irrelevant given they have a very different culture when it comes to violence. The question would be whether the introduction or abolition of the death penalty made a change. That is hard to know because America does not really execute anyone. It merely plays at it. However when a group at Emory University did the last bit meta-study, they found that each execution deters between 8 and 18 murders.

Robin Levett

…to which my response would be that any society barbaric enough to allow its government to kill its citizens when it chooses is a society that values human life sufficiently cheaply that it would not be surprising to see a high murder rate as a feature of that society.

All societies allow their governments to kill their citizens. The only question is about in what circumstances. You do not necessarily see high murder rates in countries with the death penalty. Japan for instance. Britain in the 1950s. The highest murder rates in the world are in countries that do not execute – Jamaica for instance.

And my response would be, if people are such cowards that they cannot bear the thought of being involved in any way with executions, no matter how far removed they are, in the full knowledge that the alternative is more murder, more killings in prison, more people killed by released and escaped convicts, more prison rape, then they misunderstand what civilisation is and they have merely allowed more suffering and brutality because they did not have the courage to do what is right.

38. Leon Wolfeson

@37 – Oh yes, it takes such courage to murder innocent people. I’m so pleased that your Fifth Reich is in the offing.

Keep supporting your far-right dream of the State being able to murder the left en-mass.

Keep supporting your far-right dream of the State being able to murder the left en-mass.

No need to dream, comrade. You can pretty much guarantee, as history has proven over and over, that if you lock two anti-capitalists in a room – or socialist state – only one will be alive in the morning. Besides, using the term en masse with respect to the British left is a spectacular conceit, no?

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 SMFS

“I am sorry but criminals don’t think they will get caught so punishment doesn’t matter, but the risk of getting caught, the very thing they don’t think about, does matter?

Can you tease that out for me a little – they simultaneously know and yet don’t know they will get caught? They are like a cat trapped in some insane German’s box?”

It’s pretty clear. The severity of the punishment itself doesn’t carry much weight if the criminal assumes they won’t get caught. So instead of making the punishment more severe, you find a way to make criminals feel they are more likely to get caught.

That’s the logic. I believe the premise but have some doubts about the solution. I suspect criminals’ assumption that they won’t get caught comes from an instinctive feeling of “it wouldn’t happen to ME” rather than a sober assessment of the risks.

What could be better than restoring traditional values – public executions for family entertainment and hanging for almost anything?

As this database of 2338 executions for the period 1800-1827 shows, hanging for murder was comparatively unusual – it was mostly for other crimes:
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/1800.html

For those who like to savour such things, there’s a bio movie in 10 parts on YouTube of Alb Pierrepoint, featured as the UK’s last hangman – in fact, he wasn’t the last.

On official figures, it costs over £40,000 on average to keep a convict in secure accommodation in prison so there are great savings in public spending to be made from hanging them instead, not least because Britain has a larger per capita prison population than other west European countries. Restoring hanging would certainly help to cut the budget deficit – the more crimes for which hanging is made the penalty, the bigger the savings.

Jesus. That Guido man is a fucking ignorant monkey

I cannot believe that the benefits to the public finances from restoring the death penalty have been fully evaluated.

By reports, they are still dithering over what use is to be made of the Olympic stadium when the games are finished. I feel pretty confident that News International or BSkyB would make a multibillion bid for exclusive TV broadcasting rights. Of course, the BBC is bound to lodge a formal protest with Ofcom and make a competing bid saying that it wouldn’t be right to limit access to broadcasts of such important public events to PayTV. That would be as good a reason as any for an increase in the TV license fee to fund an extension of public service broadcasting.

Pubs showing TV would attract bumper crowds on execution days – beer sales and the excise duties would rocket. Premium prices could be charged for star billlings – like Manchester City v Liverpool + 3 hangings. The trend in pub closures would likely go into reverse. A little retrospective legislation to clear up the backlog of assets presently wasting away in jails would be good business. Those pressing for Sharia law in Britain would be placated at last. This is all win-win – try this trailer for a public stoning for blasphemy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYkbqzWVHZI&feature=endscreen&NR=1

@Bob B

You’re completely wrong. Capital punishment is much more expensive than life.

“As a public policy choice, execution requires tradeoffs of public resources and investments for state legislators and local prosecutors. The costs of administering capital punishment are prohibitive. Even in states where prosecutors infrequently seek the death penalty, the price of obtaining convictions and executions ranges from $2.5 million to $5 million per case (in current dollars), compared to less than $1 million for each killer sentenced to life without parole. These costs create clear public policy choices. If the state is going to spend $5 million on law enforcement over the next few decades, what is the best use of that money? Is it to buy two or three executions or, for example, to fund additional police detectives, prosecutors, and judges to arrest and incarcerate criminals who escape punishment because of insufficient law-enforcement resources?
Florida, for example, spent between $25 million to $50 million more per year on capital cases than it would have to if all murderers received life without parole. The Indiana Legislative Services Agency estimated that had the state sentenced its death row populations to life without parole, Indiana taxpayers would have been spared approximately $37.1 million.”

http://www.law.columbia.edu/law_school/communications/reports/summer06/capitalpunish

There are some interesting points regarding the deterrent factor in there as well:

“But recent studies that separate capital-eligible homicides – the ones that should be most sensitive to the deterrent effects of execution – from other homicides show no significant changes over time in the rate of capital-eligible homicides in the face of variation in the execution rate.”

45. Leon Wolfeson

@39 – Oh yes, after you’ve finished murdering anyone on the left they’ll be gone. Strangely enough, this makes the sense you’re allergic too.

@44 – Not when you dispense with the little issues like “proof”. Come now, think that they support lawyers for the 99%? Ha!

As a public service, Michael Portillo produced a 6-part documentary for the BBC on the science of executions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R18yDjc2lKE

47. So Much For Subtlety

40. Chaise Guevara

It’s pretty clear. The severity of the punishment itself doesn’t carry much weight if the criminal assumes they won’t get caught. So instead of making the punishment more severe, you find a way to make criminals feel they are more likely to get caught.

That is a more sensible way to put it. Although if you concede that murderers are that rational I think you have lost the argument. Because, presumably, they make some sort of pay-off calculation – not merely their chances of being caught but the penalty as well. So a harsh punishment with little chance of being caught is not a deterrent, but neither is a high chance of being caught with a minor penalty. So the best of all worlds would be a high chance of being caught linked to a harsh penalty. That would maximise deterrence.

That’s the logic. I believe the premise but have some doubts about the solution. I suspect criminals’ assumption that they won’t get caught comes from an instinctive feeling of “it wouldn’t happen to ME” rather than a sober assessment of the risks.

That may well be true. Especially as most criminals are young males who think a lot of things won’t happen to them. In which case the death penalty serves a deeper purpose – it reinforces the horror of the action. It makes society’s utter abhorrence of the act clear. We have become blaise towards murder and I think it is partly because we see so many on TV and video games, partly because so many intellectuals defend murderers but also because it is only getting an eight year prison sentence so it is no big deal. The more horror that people have towards the crime, the less likely they are to do it.

Gareth

You’re completely wrong. Capital punishment is much more expensive than life.

I think you are missing Bob’s attempt at irony. But you are wrong. Capital punishment, as implemented in America, is more expensive than life. That is not the same thing as capital punishment being more expensive.

Even in states where prosecutors infrequently seek the death penalty, the price of obtaining convictions and executions ranges from $2.5 million to $5 million per case (in current dollars), compared to less than $1 million for each killer sentenced to life without parole.

Except that misses the point. Those costs are not caused by the death penalty but by the usual suspects determined to drag each and every execution out for as long as possible with as many pointless appeals as they can. As their intent is to make the system unworkable. If America simply stopped them doing so, the costs would drop dramatically. Also they are not factoring in all the costs. As Emory’s study shows, each execution deters between 8 and 28 murders with a mean of about 18. Each American life is usually assumed to be worth a few million dollars. It follows that execution is cheaper. All you have to do is consider all the costs.

That is not considering the cost in human life to those people those murderers go on to kill later on. Every person who is not executed is a risk of re-offending. Every person executed is not.

48. Chaise Guevara

@ 47 SMFS

“In which case the death penalty serves a deeper purpose – it reinforces the horror of the action. It makes society’s utter abhorrence of the act clear. ”

I’m not sure this would work deterrent-wise. I’m not saying you’re wrong – that would require data – just that I have my doubts.

The “it couldn’t happen to me” effect seems to scale with seriousness – people are more likely to convince themselves that something couldn’t happen to them if it’s really, really bad. That’s why some anti-drink-driving ads moved away from saying “Imagine if you had to live with the fact that you killed someone”, and towards things like “Imagine losing your license”. If someone gets behind the wheel of a car when drunk, they don’t believe for a minute that they’ll end up killing someone, but they can all too easily imagine losing their license.

So very harsh punishments could, in theory, be counterproductive as a deterrent. Like I say, I don’t know this for sure, it’s just a possibility.

43
I’d be very careful about going down the ‘useless eater’ argument, because once we start making a connection between economic cost and life, the moral boundaries have been widened. Not good for an ageing society.
I’m not convinced that the thought of getting/not getting away with it, figures that often in the majority of murders, if that were so, why would those who have murdered in the USA, do so in states that have the death penalty rather than go over the state line to do said act.?
47
Bad logic, all murderers move from never killing to having killed, so if we use your logic we would have to execute everyone to prevent murder.

Chaise

“So very harsh punishments could, in theory, be counterproductive as a deterrent. Like I say, I don’t know this for sure, it’s just a possibility.”

There’s a traditional English adage reflecting that very thought from the times when hanging was often a sentence for many crimes besides murder: Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

That is an instance of what in the jargon is dubbed a “perverse incentive”. In the absence of capital punishment, a perverse incentive is one of the serious pitfalls from “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing policies – a criminal facing the possibility of a third arrest for a serious crime has a powerful incentive to murder victims or witnesses because that wouldn’t make much difference to the likely sentence in the event of arrest and a conviction. OTOH there is a very real problem of what to do with habitual reoffenders.

In 1832, Parliament legislated to reduce by two-thirds the number of crimes for which those convicted could be hanged partly because it came to be widely believed that juries were tending to return unreasonable acquittal verdicts, notwithstanding the evidence, in anticipation of hanging sentences from some judges because the juries regarded that as too harsh a penalty. Notoriously, Judge and subsequently the Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys (1645-89) was infamously renown for handing out hanging sentences:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Jeffreys,_1st_Baron_Jeffreys

Note too from that database @41 of executions in 1800-1827, the hanging of Luddites in 1817.

Britain didn’t get into the American situation where convicts sentenced to hang stayed on death row for years while successive appeal procedures were exhausted.

By the 20th century, the regular practice was to allow for three Sundays to pass between sentence and execution unless an appeal was lodged and that was unusual. The general aim seems to have been to get the sentence over and done with as soon as decently practicable. Ergo there are great potential savings in public spending to be gained from restoring traditional values by returning to the situation prior to 1832 when there were over 200 offences eligible for the death penalty.

51. Chaise Guevara

@ 50 Bob

Clear something up for me: are you actually advocating the death penalty on the basis of savings or any other benefit? I honestly can’t tell whether you’re satirising or tub-thumping.

I read that America has a similar problem with juries returning “not guilty” verdicts in cases that could lead to a death sentence on conviction, purely because they don’t want blood on their hands.

Chaise:

“Clear something up for me: are you actually advocating the death penalty on the basis of savings or any other benefit? I honestly can’t tell whether you’re satirising or tub-thumping.”

The presently challenging issues of escalating rates of recidivism and reoffending will evaporate by restoring traditional values and reverting to hanging for almost anything. There will be no more irritating problems with recruiting enough probation officers to oversee community sentences.

In a short while, it will become feasible to close down whole prisons and turn them over to social housing and accommodation for the homeless. With the right to buy, the old condemned cells at the hanging jails will probably go for premium prices.

In these depressing times, I feel sure a promotional campaign along the lines of: “Bring back hanging and cut the budget deficit” will inspire and go down well with those of the Micawber tendency. The prospect of an after use for the Olympic stadium after the games are done will come as a welcome relief by many taxpayers. The succession of unwelcome leaflets I get through my letterbox for PayTV services by satellite or cable will be able to carry new strap lines: . . . and public hangings for family entertainment just like the old days.

Btw I don’t know when the regulations were changed but the condemned used to have their hands bound at the front when the time came, instead of behind, so they could pray. We should revert to the old regulations to signal a religious revival with a new enduring commitment to faith and the Big Society. Such little, timely gestures can mean so much.

Isn’t it time for a new peace initiative with the authorities in Iran – what could be better than bringing back hanging to Britain? By reports, Iran recently established a new record – 47 executions in just 3 months.

In re: the picture Sunny chose to illustrate this article, I was under the impression that Guido Fawkes was more a libertarian than a conservative? (And nobody do the whole “they’re all the same” routine, because that’s just nonsense.)

54. Chaise Guevara

@ 52 Bob

The question I asked you required a simple yes/no answer. Going on in the same vein helps neither of us.

Bob’s winning this one. If anyone’s keeping score.

There’s another case of miscarriage of justice in the news:

POLICE held evidence which could have potentially helped free a Merseyside man convicted of murdering his wife for at least 17 years, it was claimed yesterday.

Eddie Gilfoyle was jailed in 1993 for killing his wife Paula, who was founded hanged eight months pregnant in the garage of their Upton home.

Mr Gilfoyle, 50, served 18 years in jail and was released in December 2010 on parole having lost two appeals in 1995 and 2000.
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/01/07/merseyside-police-held-evidence-in-eddie-gilfoyle-murder-case-for-17-years-100252-30075736/

Of course, the good thing about bringing back hanging is there tend to be fewer cases of miscarriages of justice as the victims aren’t around any longer to cause unnecessary and distasteful trouble.

The thing about the deterrent effect of hanging – if it works – is that it doesn’t really matter if some innocents get hanged from time to time. All that really matters is that enough folk believe that only the guilty get hanged.

56
‘All that really matters is that enough folk believe that only the guilty get hanged’

This is true, however, once the public realize that there might be no connection between the crime and punishment, there would be absolutely no deterrent.

The Treasury hasn’t given nearly enough thought to maximising the revenue potential from bringing back hanging.

The Treasury really needs to be more enterprising about this. The Crown will have copyright of the videos so there will a regular royalty stream for the Treasury from the marketing of the DVDs which will also create jobs and generate those extra exports needed to make up for the cuts in public spending.

If you’re up for this kind of entertainment, what could be more cosy than a nice evening at home in front of the TV, with a six pack and bags of popcorn, watching a few hangings during the halftime breaks in football matches? That should all help to reinforce the deterrent effect. The trouble is that we can expect the SNP government to want to do things differently in Scotland. That will send a clear message – if you absolutely need to commit serial murders, go up there to do it.

I trust the many inspiring suggestions in the thread will help to get Guido into a more productive campaign.

59. So Much For Subtlety

56. Bob B

There’s another case of miscarriage of justice in the news:

POLICE held evidence which could have potentially helped free a Merseyside man convicted of murdering his wife for at least 17 years, it was claimed yesterday.

Sorry Bob, you have been doing well up to now. Not a miscarriage of justice. A potential miscarriage of justice. The police are required to hand over anything that could help the defendant in his legal case. That is not the same as everything. So what if his wife was keeping a diary? We have no evidence as yet that they contain anything useful that could have helped his case.

Of course, the good thing about bringing back hanging is there tend to be fewer cases of miscarriages of justice as the victims aren’t around any longer to cause unnecessary and distasteful trouble.

Indeed. A strong point in its favour. Everyone gets on with their lives.

The thing about the deterrent effect of hanging – if it works – is that it doesn’t really matter if some innocents get hanged from time to time. All that really matters is that enough folk believe that only the guilty get hanged.

It doesn’t even matter if enough folk recognise that innocent people get hanged. As long as enough guilty people do.

What is more, a little miscarriage of justice every now and then probably helps the cause of justice in the long term. If someone is arrested by the police and they decline to help the police, the police usually threaten (or used to threaten) that someone was going to be convicted and if they did not help it would be them. If justice was always 100% correct, the suspect would have no incentive to help. If it is possible they will be railroaded for it, they will. Everyone benefits. Even when the police verballed people, they usually verballed habitual criminals and so they got done for something even if it was not what they were charged for.

jojo

This is true, however, once the public realize that there might be no connection between the crime and punishment, there would be absolutely no deterrent.

I wonder what would happen if there was no connection. People, presumably, would conform out of terror a la Stalin’s years.

My favourite hanging story comes from the entry for Tyburn in that truly wonderful resource: Weinreb and Hibbert (eds): The London Encyclopaedia (1993):

In 1447 five men had already been hanged, cut down while still alive and stripped ready for quartering when their pardon arrived but the hangman refused to return their clothes – a legitimate perk of his job – so they were obliged to walk home naked.

Several issues arise:

– this was a close call
– the trade union tradition of industrial relations established by practice and custom has ancient historic roots
– as a public employee, the hangman was underpaid and so naturally looked to perks to make up a living wage.

In modern times, Pierrepoint was paid a pittance for each job done plus bare travel expenses. The official motivation seems to have been that as a public servant, the official hangman should work not for the money but out of a sense of genuine vocation although it needs to be recognised that the Home Office used to receive a stream unsolicited applications for the job.

Pierrepoint seems likely to have initially got the job of Assistant Executioner as his father and uncle were previously official hangmen – an application of the familiar principle applied in the selection of horses and dog breeds. He became a chief executioner on promotion. In these hard times, the appointment could be put out for tender with the job going to the highest bid – or the second highest on the advice of the games theorists, as the case may be.

– feminists can be justly outraged at those events in 1447. Had women been up for execution by burning at the stake – the equivalent of hanging, drawing etc reserved for women to protect public decency – the faggots would have already been alight so there would have small chance of stopping proceedings when the pardons arrived before further harm was inflicted on the victims. The morale, presumably, is that feminists should press for equal treatment with the men regardless.

– long before Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, founded the public relations profession in America, our ancestors knew a thing or two about political relations and how to realise promising commercial opportunites from the macabre business of hanging. When it was decided to stage hangings outside Newgate Prison instead of at Tyburn, commercial interests along the well-trafficked route from the prison were naturally upset. That route became Oxford Street – the premier shopping street in London – and Tyburn was turned into Marble Arch. Traditional values.

Poor old Guido, he looks seriously confused. As if being a Roman Catholic and a Libertarian wasn’t already contradictory enough, now he’s promoting the death penalty?

The internal contradictions must really be doing his head in. For a start here’s what the Vatican has to say about capital punishment, as published in a paper prepared for the Feb. 1-3 2007 World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Paris and released Feb. 7 by the Vatican press office:

It “is not only a refusal of the right to life, but it also is an affront to human dignity”

“Consciences have been awakened by the need for a greater recognition of the inalienable dignity of human beings and by the universality and integrity of human rights, beginning with the right to life.”

The paper said every decision to use the death penalty carries “numerous risks,” including “the danger of punishing innocent persons” and the possibility of “promoting violent forms of revenge rather than a true sense of social justice.”

A capital execution … is “a clear offense against the inviolability of human life” and can contribute to “a culture of violence and death.”

“For Christians,” the Vatican said, “it also shows contempt for the Gospel teaching on forgiveness.”

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0700736.htm

Maybe Guido’s soul would benefit from spending more time in humble study, contemplation and prayer and less on whipping up the mob.

62. Chaise Guevara

@ 59 SMFS

“Indeed. A strong point in its favour. ”

Y’see, it’s things like this that make me sympathise with those who call you a troll.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned http://t.co/yJ4iRV3d

  2. Boris Watch

    RT @libcon: Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned http://t.co/In6j4u06 < 'WANTED: Hangman to deal with nuisance libertarian wankstain' ?

  3. Nemesis Republic

    Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned http://t.co/yJ4iRV3d

  4. Steve Hynd

    Paul Staines aka Guido of Order Order is lobbying for restoration of capital punishment http://t.co/1IkxqsuB via @libcon

  5. Lanark

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  6. Richard Smith

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  9. North Briton

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  21. Sim-O

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  22. ST

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  23. Steve Hynd

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  24. ST

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  26. thaedis

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  27. Maria Stanford

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  28. Noxi

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  29. Dr*T

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  30. Simon Scott 2012

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  31. TheCreativeCrip

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  32. Patron Press - #P2

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  33. James Henry

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  36. A Man Called Wood

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  37. John Band

    RT @libcon: Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned http://t.co/In6j4u06 < 'WANTED: Hangman to deal with nuisance libertarian wankstain' ?

  38. Pete Berry

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  39. TheCreativeCrip

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  40. Martin Shovel

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  41. Mathew Hobson

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  43. GeekPoet

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  44. Rachel Case

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  45. Owen Blacker

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  46. Craig McLeod

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  47. Saggydaddy

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  49. AlmosJustice

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  50. James Graham

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  51. Andy May

    Welcome, but how can ASA justify regulating epetition ads while claiming regulating referendum ads wld breach the HRA? http://t.co/RvNXyet3

  52. Quaequam Blog! » Why does the Advertising Standards Authority regulate e-petition campaigns but not referendums?

    […] is great to see that the Advertising Standards Authority has cracked down on Paul Staines for misleading advertising as part of his campaign in support of his death penalty e-petition. It is not immediately clear however why the ASA feels it has a regulatory role here while it […]

  53. Natacha Kennedy

    @guidofawkes caught lying again. Not news realy. http://t.co/6C9bQ7FH #porkies

  54. McGinOxford

    How embarrassing: Guido Fawkes forgot to tell ppl his 'bring back hanging' advert has been banned http://t.co/Us2Xmfdl

  55. Political Scrapbook

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  56. Watching You

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  57. TCW Jones

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/01/05/guido-fawkes-hanging-ad-has-been-banned/

  58. Tom Rafferty

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  59. Nick Rowan

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  60. Liza Harding

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  61. Jeevan Rai

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  62. Jos Bell

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  63. RJ

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  64. Leon Ward

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  65. Andy Boal

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  66. Mark Pack

    Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ZmYnUxgu

  67. Neil Balmer

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  68. Harris

    @GuidoFawkes Here you go Paul, they say otherwise: http://t.co/rjOR78qi

  69. Inside Croydon

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  70. DrBlighty

    In all the Abbott excitement yesterday we didn't see that @GuidoFawkes had his knucles rapped by the ASA http://t.co/SZPQO46o

  71. Michael Bater

    RT @libcon: Guido Fawkes hanging ad has been banned http://t.co/UDjn9lIe





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