UK Court of Appeal upholds principle of whole-life prison terms


Palesa Manaleng
According to BBC News UK, the Court of Appeal has upheld judges’ right to jail the most serious offenders in England and Wales for the rest of their lives. Increasing a 40-year tariff to a whole-life tariff for murderer Ian McLoughlin, whose trial judge had said he was unable to pass such a sentence.
The Court also dismissed an appeal by murderer Lee Newell that whole-life order had been “manifestly excessive”.
The European Court of Human Rights had ruled such terms breached human rights, saying that while it accepted whole life orders could be justified, there should nevertheless be some way of having imprisonment reviewed after 25 years.
Rape victim Helen Stockford, who’s waived her right to anonymity so she can campaign for a change in the justice system, said the ruling showed the court was “standing up for the offenders, i.e. the criminals, all the time”.

What is a whole-life tariff?
• Offenders who receive a whole-life tariff cannot be released other than at the discretion of the justice secretary on compassionate grounds – for example, if they are terminally ill or seriously incapacitated
• They are not eligible for a parole review or release
• However, prisoners can have their sentence reduced on appeal
• The sentence is reserved for offenders judged to be the most dangerous to society
• 53 people are currently serving whole-life tariffs
• These include the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and Moors Murderer Ian Brady
• Serial killer Rosemary West is the only woman currently serving a whole-life sentence
• The most recent murderers to receive the sentence are Mark Bridger, who killed five-year- old April Jones, and Dale Cregan, who murdered two police officers

Read more on whole-life prison terms:
Analysis: Whole-life tariffs ruling could spark another huge row
Jeremy Bamber launches appeal against whole life tariff
Whole-life terms ‘not wrong in principle’, court hears
Cameron backs ‘life means life’ sentences for murderers
Murderer Arthur Hutchinson in first whole-life tariff appeal
Killers’ life terms ‘breach their human rights’


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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