The Whole Life Tariff

Three convicted murderers have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights opposing the principle of whole life tariffs. The trio claim that condemning them to die in jail amounts to "inhuman or degrading treatment" and argue that their sentences should be open to regular review.
This follows closely upon an outcry in the papers over the UK Supreme Court ruling that people should have the right to ask to have their names removed from the Sex Offenders Register. The Home Secretary said she would comply with the ruling, but reluctantly and to the minimum possible degree.
Is it a human right to earn - eventually - the chance to make a new start?
These are such sensitive issues (some would say symptoms of moral panic) that few if any politicians will risk being seen as soft on them. But the moral questions deserve consideration:
Is it wrong that the punishment for even the worst murders should exclude all hope of eventual release? Or should "life" in some cases really mean life, to reflect society's abhorrence of the crime and to protect the public from the criminal?
Is it wrong that the odium of a sex-crime should be attached to the offender from conviction to death, overriding all evidence of repentance and reformation? Or are sex criminals - with their high rate of recidivism - in a special category of dangerous individuals who need to be tracked and watched for the protection of the public?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Kenan Malik.

Witnesses: Rt. Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons
Jean Taylor - founder of Families Fighting for Justice.
Mark Williams-Thomas Former police detective, criminologist and child protection expert.
Bobby Cummines OBE FRSA Designation : Chief Executive, 'Unlock' (The National Association of Reformed Offenders).

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45 minutes

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Sat 5 Mar 2011 22:15

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