Should Life Mean Life?
Should life mean life? Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever got in a predicament with the law? Have you ever had to face consequences? This is the harsh reality for 83,430 prisoners serving a sentence in the United Kingdom today. Although at least they have something to work towards, knowledge of when they will be released, adate to tell their loved ones that they can see them again. It is not as simple as this for people serving life sentences though: they do not have any of these privileges. This needs to stop. Life should not mean life. The most influential point on whether should life mean life is that everyone deserves a chance at redemption.
In 1993 two boys called Jon Venables and Robert Thompson kidnapped and took the life of a toddler called James Bulger. They were sentenced to a life sentence and released with new identities. In addition to being liberated Jon Venables has been recalled for breaking the conditions of his licence although Robert Thompson has never been recalled. This is also the case for the majority of prisoners serving a life sentence in Scotland, statistics have shown that less than a quarter of Scottish Prisoners serving Life sentences get recalled. Some citizens believe that all criminals are a ‘danger’ to society. They are wrong.
People should be given the chance to contemplate what lead them to be incarcerated so they can change for the better. It is morally wrong to deny someone the chance of atonement. Due to the ambiguity of when their sentences will end, prisoners serving life sentences are affected in copious ways. A report by the BBC showed that a large quantity of IPP(Imprisoned for public protection) prisoners are subject to mental and physical health, well-being issues (shockingly over half ). Consequently, IPP prisoners say that the uncertainty of when their sentences will end also damages their relationships with family, friends and partners. Consequently, prisoners serving life sentences could harm themselves as they are alienated from the rest of society and they may feel like they may never be able to reconnect. Prisoners should be rehabilitated and prepared for the future; although a report highlighted that in the year of 2016, 199 inmates committed suicide which has been the highest recorded number since 1978, proving that the support system that we currently have in place isn’t working. It is clear that people are subject to avoidable pain and suffering due to these inhumane sentences.
How must it feel to know that you will never walk the streets freely again? Another immense issue is that the incarcerated prisoner may be innocent. A man from Middlesburgh called Jonathan Embleton was sentenced to life in prison (alongside two others) for murdering a pensioner in 1999. Sixteen years later more evidence was submitted to the case proving that there had been a miscarriage of justice. This demonstrates how there can be flaws in our criminal justice system that need to be resolved. It is morally incorrect to imprison someone to life as they may be innocent. To incarcerate a prisoner is a large expenditure on the government’s behalf. According to a government website, the cost per prisoner in the years of 2016-2017 was around £35,000- over a quarter of a million.
Also as a result of overpopulating, new prisons would have to be formulated and they cost millions to construct. If an inmate serving a life sentence has shown that they have reformed it would benefit the community if they were released on a life licence as they could apply for jobs to earn an income and contribute to society. So, if an inmate has shown signs of redemption, they should be acted upon with potential early releases as this would benefit the government, the local community and the prisoner serving their life sentence.
On the other hand, the parole board need to acknowledge a sense of discernment towards victims, families and communities. In 2007 a boy called Jamie Johnstone was stabbed and killed by three teenage boys, they all received life sentences although they were released on life licence. Jamie’s family believe that the sentence given to the boys were not long enough. Although, also in 2007, another boy called Martin Dunnegan was stabbed and killed in a gang fight. The perpetrators were sentenced to a life sentence and they were also released on a life licence, however, Martin’s mother said that she has forgiven the boys that took her son’s life as she believes that they now have to live with the thought that they have killed someone for the rest of their lives.
Although here we can see some benefits of life sentences, it is also clear that people should be able to apprehend the fact that people (even prisoners ) should be retrieved. Overall, it is clear that life should not mean life. People that have made a mistake should get a second chance, people that have got into a predicament with the law should get a second chance, people that have had to face consequences should get a second chance. Although this doesn’t always happen, this needs to change. Life should not mean life.
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