United Kingdom

Abolitionist for all crimesLegal status of the death penalty*

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Document(s)

Capital Punishment in Twentieth-Century Britain. Audience, Justice, Memory

By Lizzie Seal / Solon, on8 September 2020


2020

Book

United Kingdom


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Drawing on primary research, this book explores the cultural life of the death penalty in Britain in the twentieth century, including an exploration of the role of the popular press and a discussion of portrayals of the death penalty in plays, novels and films. Popular protest against capital punishment and public responses to and understandings of capital cases are also discussed, particularly in relation to conceptualisations of justice.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United Kingdom
  • Themes list Trend Towards Abolition, Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Arguing for the Death Penalty: Making the Retentionist Case in Britain, 1945-1979

By Thomas Wright / University of York, on1 January 2010


2010

Multimedia content

United Kingdom


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There is a small body of historiography that analyses the abolition of capital punishment in Britain. There has been no detailed study of those who opposed abolition and no history of the entire post-war abolition process from the Criminal Justice Act 1948 to permanent abolition in 1969. This thesis aims to fill this gap by establishing the role and impact of the retentionists during the abolition process between the years 1945 and 1979. This thesis is structured around the main relevant Acts, Bills, amendments and reports and looks briefly into the retentionist campaign after abolition became permanent in December 1969. The only historians to have written in any detail on abolition are Victor Bailey and Mark Jarvis, who have published on the years 1945 to 1951 and 1957 to 1964 respectively. The subject was discussed in some detail in the early 1960s by the American political scientists James Christoph and Elizabeth Tuttle. Through its discussion of capital punishment this thesis develops the themes of civilisation and the permissive society, which were important to the abolition discourse. Abolition was a process that was controlled by the House of Commons. The general public had a negligible impact on the decisions made by MPs during the debates on the subject. For this reason this thesis priorities Parliamentary politics over popular action. This marks a break from the methodology of the new political histories that study ‘low’ and ‘high’ politics in the same depth.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United Kingdom
  • Themes list Death Penalty, Country/Regional profiles,

Document(s)

Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman

By UK Film Council, on1 January 2005


2005

Multimedia content

United Kingdom


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Motion picture on the life and times of Albert Pierrepoint – Britain’s most prolific hangman.

  • Document type Multimedia content
  • Countries list United Kingdom
  • Themes list Public debate, Trend Towards Abolition, Death Penalty,

Document(s)

The Shadow of the Gallows: The Death Penalty and the British Labour Government, 1945-51

By Victor Bailey / Law and History Review, on1 January 2000


2000

Article

United Kingdom


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Exactly what went wrong and why is the theme of this article. How and why did the Labour government, despite its massive majority in Parliament and a long-standing commitment to abolition, fail to get rid of the death penalty? Why was this “window of opportunity” to abolish capital punishment shut for another decade and a half? The answers to these questions will be sought primarily in the realm of government and Parliament.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United Kingdom
  • Themes list Public opinion, Public debate,
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