Letter: Mandatory life sentence is cruel and absurd

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Sir: The mandatory life sentence for murder, whether for a serial killer or mercy killer, reflected the views of frightened Conservative MPs that the public would not stand for anything else.

The news that the Home Secretary is considering ditching this cruel and absurd law ('Clarke to review life sentences for murder', 17 December) is greatly to be welcomed, if for no other reason than that lifers who protest their innocence are being kept far longer in prison than if they admitted to their alleged offences.

The Home Office's pathetic justification for this is that not facing up to their own criminality means they may be disposed to commit further crimes on release.

Every convicted man should be sentenced to a fixed term which he should serve, subject to remission for good conduct. Having paid his debt to society, he should then be released. Neither admission nor denial of guilt should have any bearing on the date of release.

Yours faithfully,




18 December