Author Topic: Should Lisa Montgomery be executed?  (Read 599 times)

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Offline Steve_uk

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Re: Should Lisa Montgomery be executed?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2021, 04:05:PM »
Maggie might well have contributed and if so she would have expressed views as you suggest.  That is also my view.  I oppose capital punishment for a number of reasons.  However I have sympathy for the family of victims and fully understand the desire for vengeance.  I would no doubt have a similar view if a member of my family had been brutally murdered.  I knew one mass murderer well (a minimum of 6 victims, including two young children) and I would happily have seen him executed, but I accept that it would be wrong for society to do that.
It's one of the criticisms of the death penalty that revenge is an emotion which often doesn't heal but festers. It's a paradox that most Western democracies have abolished it yet the electorate largely remained in favour. When I watch the quality of some of Roy Jenkins' videos on YouTube (the EEC debate with Tony Benn, the Northern Ireland crisis) I feel that but for his sheer force of personality and intellectual argument we might not have abolished hanging, legalized abortion and passed the Sexual Offences Act 1967, if I might lump those three together for a moment.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 04:06:PM by Steve_uk »

Offline QCChevalier

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Re: Should Lisa Montgomery be executed?
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2021, 05:45:PM »
I'm a little disappointed that no member has offered the counter view: she had doubtless suffered abuse as a child (the latest is she had brain damage), the death penalty is inhumane and brutalizes society as a whole, it's not a deterrent etc. I suppose the uniqueness of the crime, its barbarity and premeditation made  it inevitable in a society which still retains the option of judicial killing that she would have been executed at some point.  If I recall rightly it was the late maggie whose hero was Clive Stafford-Smith, and I know had she been alive she would have contributed to this thread.

How I would address these points:

First, the general points.  I think the Americans (or at least, those states that do, as well as the federal system) are correct to retain the option to execute the worst murderers.  We should also have it restored here, though I would want a requirement of unanimity in jury decisions and other protections to be restored along with it.  It doesn't brutalise society.  What brutalises society is the criminal act. 

Keeping somebody in prison for decades on end is grotesque when that person grows into old age and is no longer a threat.  It has left the British system with a dilemma and it finishes with Colin Pitchfork, double child killer, talented artist and baker of exceedingly good cakes, sat on a bench in Bristol city centre munching on a rhubarb and custard bake from Greggs while trying to remember that he needs to pop into Boots for a prescription.  I would prefer that he had just been hanged in the first place. It would be a more dignified affair all round and provide finality to the families of the two victims. It would also have been kinder to him, actually.  I never forget that he is a human being and that prolonged incarceration involves existential suffering that we should not be seeking to inflict.

Turning to Lisa Montgomery, one red flag for me when looking at this case is the hyperbole that her defenders engage in, using buzzwords, politicised arguments and exaggeration to make a case for why she, as a woman, should not be executed.  They claim she was abused and was brain damaged, but there is no independent scientific or legal corroboration of this, to my knowledge.  I stand to be corrected if somebody can provide links to actual evidence, not just third party claims.

Let us say she was abused and raped.  There's no conclusive evidence that this ever occurred, but let's assume it is true.  Even if it did happen, this is not an excuse for murder and it is not a reason to mitigate punishment.

She may have been brain damaged; again the only evidence for this seems to be the claim of her mother who inflicted the brain damage on her.  Let's assume she is telling the truth.  It doesn't follow that she could not form the necessary criminal intent.  I accept that executing somebody who was without criminal intent in committing the act is wrong and would almost be tantamount to legalised murder, but to my knowledge, no argument was even advanced by her legal team that criminal intent was absent.  Instead, they tried to suggest that her problems were sufficient mitigation to justify commutation.  I've explained why I disagree with that: the premeditation involved in commission of the offence, and the brutality of the crime.  She must have known what she was doing.

We're told she was mentally-ill at the time of the offence.  (She was subsequently diagnosed with multiple mental disorders, but that's only after entering incarceration).  I've noticed that 'mentally-ill' is a term that's now used with undue latitude for any sort of mental or emotional issues that a person can have, and I also can't help but comment on the irony of the tacit crude sexism in this mitigation point.  Are we saying that women can't be mentally-ill without murdering somebody?  Let's assume she was mentally-ill, we have no specifics to guide us, and again the same observation as immediately above applies.  A mentally-ill person can form criminal intent.  I sympathise with people who have these issues, but it's not an excuse for murdering somebody.

There may be an argument that women should not be executed on the traditional ground that adult females are more akin to minors in their mental, intellectual and emotional disposition and lack full moral agency.  I'm not saying I agree with this argument, but feminism seems to advance the argument tacitly.  The irony is that it is feminist jurists and lawyers who believe that women are constructive minors.  That is essentially what they are saying when they appeal to chivalry and ask us not to support the execution of a convicted murderer who is female.

Where I do agree with her defenders is that her prolonged incarceration was a violation of human rights.  I am, in principle, opposed to unnecessary prolonged incarceration.  I regard it as cruel, regardless of what somebody has done.  In the case of Jeremy, keeping him in prison into his 60s when he began his sentence in his 20s is, to my mind, manifestly cruel given that he is not assessed as a significant threat to the community.  In the case of Lisa Montgomery, I think if somebody is sentenced to death following a fair trial and having had an opportunity to appeal and also ask for executive clemency, and assuming there is no remaining doubt about the essentials of the case, then the sentence must be carried out.  The reason the U.S. system drags it out for years is due to the pressure of well-meaning but misguided people who are abusing the vitality of the American due process protections.  That ought to stop.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 05:48:PM by QCChevalier »

Offline QCChevalier

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Re: Should Lisa Montgomery be executed?
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2021, 05:57:PM »
It's one of the criticisms of the death penalty that revenge is an emotion which often doesn't heal but festers. It's a paradox that most Western democracies have abolished it yet the electorate largely remained in favour. When I watch the quality of some of Roy Jenkins' videos on YouTube (the EEC debate with Tony Benn, the Northern Ireland crisis) I feel that but for his sheer force of personality and intellectual argument we might not have abolished hanging, legalized abortion and passed the Sexual Offences Act 1967, if I might lump those three together for a moment.

It's not revenge.  It's a civic duty, a man's job, that nobody wants but that must be carried out at the instruction of a court following a fair trial.  It reflects the justice that an offender who has, with premeditation, deprived a fellow human being of their life without just cause should forfeit his own life.  Nobody seriously thinks that this is 'revenge'.  Nobody in their right mind takes glee in it.  It is just the right thing to do if we believe in holding responsible adults accountable for their own actions and if we accept that the worst criminal actions should have comparable consequences.  It provides finality and spares further suffering, and it is dignified and civilised.  The lack of a death penalty in this country if anything makes us uncivilised.

The result is what we have now: arguments about when Jeremy should be released, since we didn't have the moral backbone to hang him.  Should we wait until he's 65?  70?  80?  85?  90?  His whole life tariff is extinguished by operation of law at the age of 99.  Should we release him then, or could he attack somebody with a zimmer frame?  It's just absurd.

And you have the grotesque spectacle of Colin Pitchfork, model prisoner and double child killer, on a day out in Bristol city centre.  We can't blame the present prison system for this.  The dilemma they've been put in is caused by our cowardice in not wanting to inflict the right and proper punishment.  He should have been hung - clearly and obviously.

We're governed by teenagers now. 

Offline David1819

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Re: Should Lisa Montgomery be executed?
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2021, 06:33:PM »
She entered the victims home under the false pretence of being a prospective buyer of the dog that was up for sale. She then strangled the victim before stealing her unborn child by cutting it out the womb.

Cant say I will lose any sleep from her execution.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 06:45:PM by David1819 »

Offline ngb1066

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Re: Should Lisa Montgomery be executed?
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2021, 07:15:PM »
It's one of the criticisms of the death penalty that revenge is an emotion which often doesn't heal but festers. It's a paradox that most Western democracies have abolished it yet the electorate largely remained in favour. When I watch the quality of some of Roy Jenkins' videos on YouTube (the EEC debate with Tony Benn, the Northern Ireland crisis) I feel that but for his sheer force of personality and intellectual argument we might not have abolished hanging, legalized abortion and passed the Sexual Offences Act 1967, if I might lump those three together for a moment.

For once I agree with you.