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UNIT 8. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: FOR AND AGAINST




Perhaps all criminals should be required to carry cards which read: "Fragile; Handle With Care'1. It will never do, these days, to go around referring to criminals as violent thugs. You must refer to them politely as 'social misfits'. The professional killer who wouldn't think twice about using his cosh or crowbar to batter some harmless old lady to death in order to rob her of her meagre life-savings must never be given a dose of his own medicine. He is in


Chapter II. Crime and Punishment



need of 'hospital treatment'. According to his misguided defenders, society is to blame. A wicked society breeds evil —- or so the argument goes- When you listen to this kind of talk, it makes you wonder why we aren't all criminals. We have done away with the absurdly harsh laws of the nineteenth century and this is only right-But surely enough is enough. The most senseless piece of criminal legislation in Britain and a number of other countries has been the suspension of capital punishment.

The violent criminal has become a kind of hero-figure in our time. He is glorified on the screen; he is pursued by the press and paid vast sums of money for his 'memoirs'. Newspapers which specialise in с rime-reporting enjoy enormous circulations and the publishers of trashy cops and robbers stories or 'murder mysteries' have never had it so good. When you read about the achievements of the great train robbers, it makes you wonder whether you are reading about some glorious resistance movement. The hardened criminal is cuddled and cosseted by the sociologists on the one hand and adored as a hero by the masses on the other. It's no wonder he is a privileged person who expects and reqeives VIP treatment wherever he goes.

Capital punishment used to be a major deterrent. It made the violent robber think twice before pulling the trigger. It gave the cold-blooded poisoner something to ponder about while he was shaking up or serving his arsenic cocktail. It prevented unarmed policemen from being mowed down while pursuing their duty by killers armed with automatic weapons. Above all, it protected the most vulnerable members of society, young children, from brutal sex-maniacs, It is horrifying to think that the criminal can literally get away with murder. We all know that iife sentence' does not mean what it says. After ten years or so of 'good conduct', the most desperate villain is free to return to society where he will live very comfortably, thank you, on the proceeds of his crime, or he will go on committing offences until he is caught again. People are always willing to hold liberal views at the expense of others. It's always fashionable to pose as the defender of the under-dog, so long as you, personally, remain unaffected. Did the defenders of crime, one


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wonders, in their desire for fair-play, consult the victims before they suspended capital punishment? Hardly. You see, they couldn't, because all the victims were dead

TASK 1. Explain the meaning of the follounng words and expressions:

« a brutal sex-maniac « to batter

• a cold-blooded poisoner * to breed evil m a desperate villain * to cosset

• a hardened criminal * to cuddle

• a professional killer * to deter criminals

• 'a social misfit' • to do away with

• a train robber • to get away with murder

• a violent criminal * to go on committing

• a violent robber offences

• a violent thug • to mow down

 

• to pull the trigger

• to rob

• to think twice

TASK 2. Study the following key phrases from the text above. Reproduce the text using these key phrases:

1. Criminals should carry cards: "Fragile: Handle With Care",

2. We mustn't refer to them as thugs, but as social misfits.

3. Killer who murders old lady for savings needs 'hospital treatment1.

4. "Society is to blame" argument — why aren't we all criminals?

5. We have done away with absurdly harsh laws: that's enough.

6. Suspension of capital punishment: senseless.

7. Violent criminal: a hero figure.

8. Glorified on screen and by press.

9. Great demand for crime stories.

 

10. Train robbers: a glorious resistance movement?

11. Cuddled by sociologists, adored by masses» the criminal is a privileged person.

12. He expects and receives VIP treatment

13- Capital punishment was once a major deterrent.

14. It protected unarmed policemen, young children

15, Now the criminal can get away with murder.


Chapter II, Crime and Punishment


6'3


16. 'Life sentence': ten years of 'good conduct' and then freedom to live on the proceeds of crime.

17. People hold liberal views at the expense of others,

18. Were victims consulted before suspension of capital punishment? No: they were dead.

TASK 3, Follow the statements given in Task 2. Provide counter­arguments to each statement. Compare your list with those of other students.

TASK 4. Read the text below and write down the main ideas in Russian paying special attention to the words and expressions in bold type. Translate them into English. Use the vocabulary from the Unit to render the text into English:

Пришло время отменить смертную казнь. С каждым годом это становится все более очевидным. Опыт всех стран показыва­ет, что смертная казнь приводит к ожесточению в обществе. В ряде стран смертные приговоры применяются в основном к представителям неимущих слоев населения либо расовых или этнических меньшинств.

В некоторых странах смертная казнь считается мерой, без которой невозможно остановить распространение наркотиков, ликвидировать политический терроризм, экономическую кор­рупцию или искоренить супружескую неверность. Однако нет никаких доказательств, что ее применение способно снизить уровень преступности или политического насилия. Смертную казнь часто используют как средство политических репрессий, а смертные приговоры выносятся и привидятся в исполнение произвольно.

Оправдывая смертную казнь, чаще всего говорят, что она необходима, па крайней мере временно, для блага общества.

Одаако имеет ли государство право лишать человека жизни?

Смертная казнь — это предумышленное и хладнокровное убийство человека государством. Само существование этой меры нагсазания является попранием основных прав человека: меж­дународное право запрещает жестокие, негуманные или унижа­ющие человека наказания.

Многовековой опыт применения высшей меры наказания и научные исследования о взаимосвязи смертной казни и уровня преступности не дали убедительных доказательств, что смерт-


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ная казнь способна эффективно защитить общество от преступ­ности или способствовать правосудию. Ни одна система уголов­ной юстиции не доказала свою способность последовательно и справедливо решать, кто должен жить и кто — умереть. Некото­рым удается избежать смертной казни с помощью квалифици­рованных защитников; другим — потому что их судят мягко­сердечные судьи или присяжные; третьим помогают их полити­ческие связи или положение в обществе.

Существует определенный процент судебных ошибок, по­следствия которых особенно трагичны при приведении смертно­го приговора в исполнение.

TASK 5. Study the following facts and arguments:

Financial Costs

The death penalty is not now, nor has it ever been, a more economical alternative to life imprisonment, A murder trial normally takes much longer when the death penalty is at issue than when it is not Litigation costs — including the time of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and court reporters, and the high costs of briefs — are all borne by the taxpayer.

Inevitability of Error

In 1975, only a year before the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of capital punishment, two African-American men in Florida were released from prison after twelve years awaiting execution for the murder of two white men. Their convictions were the result of coerced confessions, erroneous testimony of an alleged eyewitness, and incompetent defense counsel. Though a white man eventually admitted his guilt, a nine-year legal battle was required before the governor would grant them a pardon. Had their execution not been stayed while the constitutional status of the death penalty was argued in the courts, these two innocent men probably would not be alive today.

Barbarity

The latest mode of inflicting the death penalty, enacted into law by nearly two dozen American states, is lethal injection, first uded in Texas in 1982. It is easy to overstate the humaneness and efficacy of this method. There is no way of knowing that it is really painless. As the U.S. Court of Appeals observed, there is "substantial and uncontroverted evidence ... that execution by lethal injection


Chapter II. Crime and PunishmGnt



poses a serious risk of cruel, protracted death.... Even a slight error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralysed while dying, a sentient witness of his or her own asphyxiation."

Deterrence

Gangland killings, air piracy, drive-by shootings, and kidnapping for ransom are among the graver felonies that continue to be committed because some individuals think they are too clever to get caught Political terrorism is usually committed in the name of an ideology that honors its martyrs; trying to cope with it by threatening terrorists with death penalty is futile.

TASK 6. The following key notes represent the general ideas of the opponents of capital punishment. Use the arguments and examples from Task 5. Write down the complete text using these key notes and present your text in class:

L We shouldn't be blinded by emotional arguments: glorification

of criminal on screen, etc., irrelevant % What are the facts? In Britain capital crime has not increased

since suspension of capital punishment.

3. This has been proved many times in the past: relaxation of harsh laws has never led to increase in crime,

4. Therefore the 'deterrent' argument is absurd: capital punishment has never protected anyone

5. Those in favour of capital punishment are motivated only by desire for revenge and retaliation.

6. There has been a marked trend in society towards the humane treatment of less fortunate members.

7. Compare the treatment of the insane in the past with today.

8. Hanging, electric chairs, garroting, etc., are barbaric practices, unworthy of human beings.

9. Suspension of capital punishment is enlightened and civilised.

 

10. Capital punishment creates, it does not solve, problems.

11. Solution lies elsewhere: society is to blame.

12. Overcrowding, slums, poverty, broken homes: these are the factors that lead to crime.

13. Crime can only be drastically reduced by the elimination of social injustices — not by creating so-called 'deterrents' when the real problems remain unsolved.


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DEBATE

There is no room for capital punishment in a civilised society.

Use the information and the vocabulary from the Unit to argue the statement above,

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Chapter III LAW ENFORCEMENT

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Just English. Английский для юристов


UNIT 1. THE HISTORY OF POLICE FORCES


BRAINSTORM

The word POLICE means, generally, the arrangements made in all civilised countries to ensure that the inhabitants keep the peace and obey the law. The word also denotes the force of peace officers (or police) employed for this purpose.

Which of the following actions can be performed by a POLICE OFFICER? Sort out the odd words. Explain your choice.







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