The Law: Life Without the Hangman

Great Britain did away with the death penalty in murder cases in November 1965. Almost by reflex, advocates of capital punishment then argued that without the deterrence of executions, the number of killings would soar. For those who judge by headlines, it looked for a while as if the critics might be right. British papers seemed to overflow with stories about THREE POLICEMEN SHOT DEAD and TWO LITTLE GIRLS MURDERED.

Pressure groups, including the police, began demanding the return of the hangman. The demand seems to have been premature. According to recently announced figures for 1966, there were only 173 murders in...

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