Patterico's Pontifications

11/20/2007

I Have a Question about the European Court of Justice

Filed under: International,Law — DRJ @ 3:52 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

I was reading this Guardian article about the recent death (at age 77) of the “longest-serving UK prisoner.” I’m not sure why I decided to read it except 77 seems young to me for the “longest-serving” prisoner. I feel sure the US has inmates serving life sentences who were sentenced at a young age and lived to be far older than 77.

However, my question has to do with the last paragraph of the article:

“Straffen’s death comes as the European Court of Justice reviews whether “whole life” prison sentences are a violation of human rights. If lifelong imprisonment had been outlawed, Straffen’s case would have been referred to the high court and he would have received a new minimum term.”

This sounds like the European Court of Justice, which I assume is part of the European Union, is or was considering whether a life sentence is cruel and inhuman punishment and should be outlawed. If so, this seems like big news to me, especially given the US Supreme Court’s recent tendency to refer to foreign law in death penalty cases.

I’ve searched for references to “whole life” prison sentences (and life sentences), human rights, and the European Court of Justice without success. Does anyone know about this or can you help me find something on it? Thanks,

— DRJ

7 Responses to “I Have a Question about the European Court of Justice”

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imprisonment

    Apparently, it is actually a European Court of Human Rights that is hearing this case. The European Court of Justice is a different body.

    gahrie (56a0a8)

  2. Apparently, the term refers to a sentence in which there can be no contemplation of release at any time in a penal career; that is, no “continuous periodic estimation of the risk to the community if he should be released on license.” Sentences imposed for “purposes of retribution or deterrence,” would offend the EHCR, the European Court of Human Rights.

    They are considering Straffen’s appeal, as noted.

    Source: With Malice Aforethought: A Study of the Crime and Punishment for Homicide, by Louis Jacques Blom-Cooper, Terrence Morris

    steve (fbf00d)

  3. Is that whole life as opposed to term?

    jimboster (6e04e1)

  4. When SCOTUS goes whole hog on imposing EU standards of law on Americans, that will be the signal that it is time to ramp-up the Second Phase of the American Revolution.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  5. Apparently, the term refers to a sentence in which there can be no contemplation of release at any time in a penal career; that is, no “continuous periodic estimation of the risk to the community if he should be released on license.” Sentences imposed for “purposes of retribution or deterrence,” would offend the EHCR, the European Court of Human Rights.

    Darn it but I do agree with that. If he’s so bad that you’ve got to hurt him, kill him. If you can’t bring yourself to kill him then just lock him up until you’re sure he can’t hurt you. Use the jailspace you take him out of for the next monster you can’t bring yourself to kill.

    nk (09a321)

  6. Sentences imposed for “purposes of retribution or deterrence,” would offend the EHCR, the European Court of Human Rights.

    So what kind of sentences would pass muster at the EHCR? Political ones? Seems to me that the Europeans are very near to completely gutting their justice systems.

    LarryD (feb78b)


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