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Murder can only be described as the most harmful and offensive of all crimes It seemed for centuries both just and fair to punish murderers with the retributive sentence to death However throughout the years the penalty of death has proven unpopular and not necessary Until the Homicide Act 1957 all persons convicted of murder were automatically sentenced to death By s5 of that Act certain types of murder were singled out and designated capital murder These continued to be punishable by death whilst the remaining types of murder were punishable by imprisonment for life In effect having two degrees of murder The distinction between capital murder and non-capital murder disappeared with the Abolition Death Penalty Act 1965 and now the convicted murderer must be sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment Smith and Hogan 1988p330 Offences of murder vary so vastly in gravity contradictions and problems can arise to what is considered to be a fair and just sentence The terms most frequently used by lawyers are the words just and unjust and sometimes very often related to as if the ideas of justice and morality were co-extensive Hart 1978p153 Moral rules impose obligations and restrictions upon individuals However not only do law and morals share a vocabulary they are also seen as duties and rights of the legal system to produce fundamental moral guidelines Hart 1978p7 We think and talk of justice according to the law and yet also of the justice or injustice of the laws In this respect the facts suggest that we should view the law as a branch of morality Hart 1978p7 More importantly some rules are mandatory in the sense that they require people to behave in certain ways for example to abstain from violence or pay taxes whether they wish to or not When these rules are broken for example murder the mandatory sentence passed down is seen by some to be conflictful and bias or by
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