Should Life mean Life?

The family of Megan McAlorum went to London today and met with the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith. They brought with them 50,000 signatures on a petition calling for a Life sentence to mean Life. The Attorney General has said he was moved by the McAlorum’s, and will give his decision on the case tomorrow. He will decide whether to send the case to the Appeals Court to review the length of the sentence.

There is no doubt about the distress, pain and unremitting agony that this family have gone through and will continue to go through for the rest of their lives. The details of the case that have been released are harrowing, and Megan’s mother has been tireless in bringing her case to the media.

But do we lock criminals up and throw away the key? As a society, are we committing to the fact that there is no redemption, no remorse, no rehabilitation? Thomas Purcell was 18 at the time of the murder, and admitted guilty to the charges moments before the trial began. He has been sentenced to a mimimum term of 15 years in jail.

  • Intelligence Isider

    Miss Fitz,

    As I’m sure you are well aware, with “good behaviour” Purcell is likely to be out in half his sentenced time and that’s without taking his time on remand into consideration!

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it looks to me that you seem to be saying that that is too long?

    Would you still feel the same way if his victim had been yourself or a member of your own family?

    Perhaps I have read you wrong, and if so I apologise, but please tell me what you would see as a proper sentence for this crime?

    You asked in your own copy “But do we lock criminals up and throw away the key? As a society, are we committing to the fact that there is no redemption, no remorse, no rehabilitation?”

    What is your own answer?

  • Nice to see Daily Ireland calling for stiff sentences for people who kidnap, abuse and murder innocents. The DUP also beleive in hanging and/or flogging criminals. Is this the start of a beautiful relationship?

  • SpiceGirls

    Cool, DI are finally leading by example! will be great to see all the Ra and loyalist murderers back behind bars – 3 cheers for the di!!!

  • Miss Fitz

    The difficulty with this is of course, that the family indeed any family want/would want a whole of life sentence, leading to death in prison.

    I think in the case of Purcell, a minimum tariff has been set at 15 years before it can be looked at by the life sentence review board. I covered this on Slugger a little while ago, life sentences must be reviewed, while other sentences, including those for serious sex offences get automatic remission.

    I suppose my personal feeling from a citizenship point of view would be, this man deserves to have his case reviewed in 15 years. If there is no remorse and no rehabilitation, then he must stay in prison.

    These are never easy subjects. When my daughter was lying in hospital having been mowed down by drunken drivers, she asked me sarcastically “Well are we still in favour of restorative justice?”.

    Having said that, decisions need to be made from a dispaasionate persepctive for the good of society as a whole. We are informed by our experience, but cannot be wholly motivated by them

  • Occasional Commentator

    There are a lot of crimes where most would agree an 18-year old could be given a bit of leeway. But this sort of murder cannot be put down to a moment of youthful carelessness. If this means that his actual minimum sentence is 15 years (it’s hard to tell with these complicated legal shenanigans) then it seems about right to me, meaning he gets out at 33 years of age.

    Miss Fitz,
    I wouldn’t assume that every victim’s family want the longest sentence possible.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Miss Fitz,

    Thanks for your reply. Sorry to hear about your daughter, I hope she has fully recovered and the guilty party arrested and charged.

  • westchick

    Miss Fitz,
    You said that you would like his sentence reviewed in 15 years and if was not remorseful he should stay in prison.
    I would doubt the validity of any remorse Thomas Purcell would declare, this is a man who cold heartedly denied his guilt until the very last moment and who put her family through god knows what torture preparing for a trial, only to hange his plea at the very end presumably to try and reduce his sentence.
    I have very little sympathy for him or anyone else who commits serious crime. I would like to think that there is a possibility of rehabilitation but I sincerely doubt it.