Noted thespian Jeremy Irons regurgitates all the old, tired anti-capital punishment chestnuts in his Times Thunderer column today. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3284-2429214,00.html
While slipping in the compulsory reference to Derek Bentley, (now that it's been proved beyond any doubt that James Hanratty, that other cause celebre of the abolitionists WAS guilty)- he neglects to mention that thanks to DNA referencing, the chances of executing the wrong person are now around 1 billion to one.
He also claims that "in the US, executions and high murder rates go hand in hand"- when in fact strong evidence exists to show a direct correlation between the use of capital punishment and a decline in murder rates.
Irons also claims that capital punishment of murderers "appears to lead to a lowering of the threshold of general respect for life." Is he seriously suggesting that "general respect for life" is higher in Britain today than it was back in the 1950s, when we still executed our murderers? Our rapidly spiralling homicide rate strongly suggests otherwise.