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Behind the headlines (October issue)

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Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby LintottM » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:12 am

Hi, having read 'Death Penalty limited 1823' I am struggling to understand the meaning of the last sentence:
'However the total number of executions did not fall - the old system was so discredited that death sentences had usually been commuted'
Would this mean that despite being allowed to commute death sentences people were still executed? Can anyone explain? It has been bugging me all night!
Thank you!
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Re: Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:08 am

People were allowed to commute death sentences. However, this would not have happened for the more heinous cases like murder, so yes, people were still being executed. Presumably commutation tended to happen only with things like the lesser crimes. After these Acts were passed, those lesser crimes no longer attracted the death penalty. The executions that had taken place were for murder, etc, which were not affected by the Acts, so those carried on with death sentences that were carried out.

I think that's the meaning. Legal terminology is probably all over the place in my response.

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Re: Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby LintottM » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:20 pm

Thank you for clarifying.

I guess treason and murder numbers were still high then if execution numbers didn't fall.


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Re: Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby junkers » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:18 pm

This may help to explain the system in 1823 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z ... revision/3), although women were often not executed, even for murder/infanticide.
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Re: Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:36 pm

Interesting to see the list of capital crimes - I wouldn't have guessed piracy (with violence) would have been on it.

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Re: Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby ksouthall » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:03 am

LintottM wrote:'However the total number of executions did not fall - the old system was so discredited that death sentences had usually been commuted'
Can anyone explain? It has been bugging me all night!
Thank you!


Doesn't it mean that, prior to the 1823 Acts, so many death sentences had been commuted for the less serious crimes, that the change did not reduce the total number of executions? i.e. serious crimes were punished by death before and after the changes; less serious crimes were not punished by death before and after the change?

Or am I misinterpreting it?
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Re: Behind the headlines (October issue)

Postby LintottM » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:55 am

ksouthall wrote:
LintottM wrote:'However the total number of executions did not fall - the old system was so discredited that death sentences had usually been commuted'
Can anyone explain? It has been bugging me all night!
Thank you!


Doesn't it mean that, prior to the 1823 Acts, so many death sentences had been commuted for the less serious crimes, that the change did not reduce the total number of executions? i.e. serious crimes were punished by death before and after the changes; less serious crimes were not punished by death before and after the change?

Or am I misinterpreting it?
I think this might be right! That lesser crimes were commuted even before the act was passed. Makes sense finally!

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