Студопедия — Manslaughter
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In 1981 Marianne Bachmeir., from Lubeck, West Germany, was in court watching the trial of Klaus Grabowski, who had murdered her 7 year-old daughter. Grabowski had a history of attacking children. During the trial, Frau Bachmeir pulled a Beretta 22 pistol from her handbag and fired eight bullets, six of which hit Grabowski, killing him. The defence said she had bought the pistol with the intention of committing suicide, but when she saw Grabowski in court she drew the pistol and pulled the trigger. She was found not guilty of murder, but was given six years imprisonment for manslaughter. West German newspapers reflected the opinion of millions of Germans that she should have been freed, calling her 'the avenging mother'.

Crime of Passion

Bernard Lewis, a thirty-six-old man, while preparing dinner became involved in an argument with his drunken wife. In a fit of a rage Lewis, using the kitchen knife with which he had been preparing the meal, stabbed and killed his wife. He immediately called for assistance, and readily confessed when the first patrolman appeared on the scene with the ambulance attendant. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The probation department's investigation indicated that Lewis was a rigid individual who never drank, worked regularly, and had no previous criminal record. His thirty-year-old deceased wife» and mother of three children, was a 'fine girl1 when sober but was frequently drunk and on a number of occasions when intoxicated had left their small children unattended. After due consideration of the background of the offence and especially of the plight of the three motherless youngsters, the judge placed Lewis on probation so that he could work, support and take care of the children. On probation Lewis adjusted well, worked regularly, appeared to be devoted to the children, and a few years later was discharged as 'improved' from probation,


In 1952 two youths in Mitcham, London, decided to rob a dairy. They were Christopher Craig, aged 16, and Derek William Bentley, 19, During the robbery they were disturbed by Sydney Miles, a policeman. Craig produced a gun and killed the policeman. At that time Britain still had the death penalty for certain types of murder, including murder during a robbery. Because Craig was

54 Just English. Английский для юристов

under 18, he was sentenced to life imprisonment Bently who had never touched the gun, was over 18. He was hanged in 1953. The case was quoted by opponents of capital punishment, which was abolished in 1965-


In 1976 a drunk walked into a supermarket When the manager asked him to leave, the drunk assaulted him, knocking out a tooth. A policeman who arrived and tried to stop the fight had his jaw broken. The drunk was fined 10 pounds.


In June 1980 Lady Isabel Barnett, a well-known TV personality was convicted of stealing a tin of tuna fish and a carton of cream, total value 87p, from a small shop. The case was given enormous publicity. She was fined 75 pounds and had to pay 200 pounds towards the cost of the case. A few days later she killed herself.


This is an example of a civil case rather than a criminal one. A man had taken out an insurance policy of 100, 000 pounds on his life. The policy was due to expire at 3 o'clock on a certain day. The man was in serious financial difficulties, and at 2, 30 on the expire day he consulted his solicitor. He then went out and called a taxi. He asked the driver to make 9 note of the time, 2.50, He then shot himself. Suicide used not to cancel an insurance policy automatically. (It does nowadays.) The company refused to pay the man's wife, and the courts supported them.


» Ал eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

• Judge not least you be judged.

• Everyone deserves a second chance.

• Justice is nothing unless it is tempered with mercy.

Prepare your arguments for or against the statements above. Use the active vocabulary from the Unit, Divide into two groupspro and con, and conduct a debate. Appoint the 'Chair' of the debate who will give the floor to the speakers of both teams.

Chapter II Crime and Punishment 55


TASK 1- Match the following headings with the sections of the text below:

m Effectiveness

• History

• Moral aspect

(1) Capital punishment is a legal infliction of the death penalty, in modern law, corporal punishment in its most severe form. The usual alternative to the death penalty is long-term or lift? imprisonment.

The earliest historical records contain evidence of capital punishment. It was mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi, The Bible prescribed death as the penalty for more than 30 different crimes, ranging from murder to fornication. The Draconian Code of ancient Greece imposed capital punishment for every offence,

In England, during the reign of William the Conqueror, the death penalty was not used, although the results of interrogation and torture were often fatal- By the end of the 15th century, English law recognised six major crimes: treason, murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. By 1800, more than 200 capital crimes were recognised, and as a result, 1000 or more persons were sentenced to death each year (although most sentences were commuted by royal pardon). In early American colonies the death penalty was commonly authorized for a wide variety of crimes, Blacks, whether slave or free, were threatened with death for many crimes that were punished less severely when committed by whites.

Efforts to abolish the death penalty did not gather momentum until the end of the 18th century. In Europe, a short treatise, On Crimes and Punishments, by the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria, inspired influential thinkers such as the French philosopher Voltaire to oppose torture, flogging, and the death penalty.

" The abolition of capital punishment in England in November 1965 was welcomed by most people with humane and progressive ideas. To them it seemed a departure from feudalism, from the cruel pre-Christian spirit of revenge: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Many of these people think differently now Since thp abolition of capital punishment crime — and especially murder — has been on increase throughout Britain. Today, therefore, public opinion in Britain has changed People who before, also in Parliament,

3 - 6660

Just English. Английский для юристов

stated that capital punishment was not a deterrent to murder for there have always been murders in all countries with or without the law of execution — now feel that killing the assassin is the lesser of two evils. Capital punishment, they think, may not be the ideal answer, but it is better than nothing, especially when, as in England, a sentence of life imprisonment only lasts eight or nine years.

(2) The fundamental questions raised by the death penalty are whether it is an effective deterrent to violent crime, and whether it is more effective than the alternative of long-term imprisonment.

DEFENDERS of the death penalty insist that because taking an offender's life is a more severe punishment than any prison term, it must be the better deterrent. SUPPORTERS also argue that no adequate deterrent in life imprisonment is effective for those already serving a life term who commit murder while being in prison, and for revolutionaries, terrorists, traitors, and spies,

In the ILS. those who argue against the death penalty as a deterrent to crime cite the following: (1) Adjacent states, in which one has a death penalty and the other does not, show no significant differences in the murder rate; (2) states that use the death penalty seem to have a higher number of homicides than states that do not use it; (3) states that abolish and then reintroduce the death penalty do not seem to show any significant change in the murder rate; (4) no change in the rate of homicides in a given city or state seems to occur following an expository execution.

In the early 1970s, some published reports showed that each execution in the U.S, deterred eight or more homicides, but subsequent research has discredited this finding. The current prevailing view among criminologists is that no conclusive evidence exists to show that the death penalty is a more effective deterrent to violent crime than long-term imprisonment.

(3) The classic moral arguments in favor of the death penalty have been biblical and call for retribution. " Whosoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed1' has usually been interpreted as a divine warrant for putting the murderer to death. " Let the punishment fit the crime" is its secular counterpart; both statements imply that the murderer deserves to die, DEFENDERS of capital punishment have also claimed that society has the right to kill in defence of its members, just as the individual may kill in self-defence. The analogy to self-defence, however, is somewhat doubtful, as long as the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crimes has not been proved.

Chapter II Crime and Punishment 57

The chief objection to capital punishment has been that it is always used unfairly, in at least three major ways. First, women are rarely sentenced to death and executed, even though 20 per cent of all homicides in recent years have been committed by women. Second, a disproportionate number of non-whites are sentenced to death and executed. Third, poor and friendless defendants, those with inexperienced or court-appointed attorney, are most likely to be sentenced to death and executed. DEFENDERS of the death penalty, however, have insisted that, because none of the laws of capital punishment causes sexist, racist, or class bias in ite use, these kinds of discrimination are not a sufficient reason for abolishing the death penalty. OPPONENTS have replied that the death penalty can be the result of a mistake in practice and that it is impossible to administer fairly,

TASK 2. Find in the, text the English equivalents for the following words and expressions related to punishment:

1. возмездие

2. долгосрочное тюремное заключение

3. допрос

4. отбыть срок в тюрьме

5. отмена смертной казни

6. пожизненное тюремное заключение

7. показательная казнь

8. приговаривать к смерти 0, пытка

10, смягчить приговор

11. телесные наказания

TASK 3, Translate the following passage into English paying special attention to the words in bold type:

На протяжении веков смертная казнь назначалась за самые разные виды преступлений, В средние века человека могли каз­нить за хищение имущества, изнасилование и даже поджог. Государственная измена была и остается во многих странах пре­ступлением, наказуемым смертной казнью. Существует мнение, что даже долгосрочное или пожизненное тюремное заключение является бессмысленным наказанием для так называемых 'идео-

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логических* преступников: предателей, шпионов, террористов. Смертная казнь для такого рода преступников — меньшее из двух зол.

TASK 4. Answer the following questions:

1. Why was capital punishment imposed so frequently in ancient societies?

2. Why were blacks punished more severely than whites in early American colonies?

3. When did European thinkers begin considering the

alternatives to death penalty?

4. How have the attitudes towards capital punishment changed in Britain since the abolition of death penalty in 1965?

5. Is imprisonment effective for revolutionaries and terrorists? Why?

6. How have Americans treated the problem of death penalty?

7. What factors may hamper fair administration of justice in capital cases?

TASK 5. Continue the table below with the following words and expressions describing polar views. The first few are done for you:


proponent to argue in favour of smth. opponent to argue against smth.





to accept smth.

to admit smth.

to agree to/with smth,

to confirm smth.

to consent to smth.

to contradict to smth.

to deny smth.

to disagree with smth.

to object to smth, -

to oppose smth.

to reject smth.

Chapter II. Crime and Punishment

TASK 6. What is your personal understanding of the following famous statements? Make a list of examples from history to illustrate these statements. Use the words and expressions from Task 5 to support the following opposite points of view:


1. " An eye for an eye and a 1. " An eye for an eye and
tooth for a tooth! " — We a tooth for a tooth! " — This
should admit this Biblical is a cruel pre-Christian spirit
principle. It is eternal!..., of revenge. We are civilized
  now — let's give it up and
  be humane!...,
2, " Let the punishment fit the 2. " Let the punishment fit the
crime." — Those who steal crime." — We can not accept
should be deprived of their fixed punishments for crimes.
property,.... those who kill Circumstances should be
should be deprived of their taken into account
own lives!....  
3. " The pain of the penalty г,
should outweigh only slightly  
the pleasure of success in  
J, Bentham  
4. 4. " It is much more prudent
  to acquit two persons though
  actually guilty, than to pass a
  sentence of condemnation on
  one that is virtuous and
5. " The primary purpose of the 5.
punishment which society  
mllicts is to redress the  
disorder caused by the  
Pope John Paul II  
6\ 6. " An evil deed is not
  redeemed by an evil deed
  of retaliation."
  C. S. King
7. " Whosoever sheds man's 7.
blood, by man shall his blood  
be shed."  

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