By the census of 1961, the population in Liverpool had decreased to 747,000 people from 856,000 in 1931. In spite of this 12 percent reduction in its inhabitants of a 30 year period, crime was on the rise. The people of Liverpool had to solve the crime problem, but how?
On November 9, 1965, the Murder Act suspended the death penalty for murder in the United Kingdom for a period of five years. Hanging those convicted of murder was formerly abolished by parliament in December 1969 and has now been totally abolished for all crimes. The last of the executions was carried out on August 13, 1964, in Walton and Strangways prisons in Liverpool and Manchester. Two men were hung after being convicted of robbing and killing a laundry man. Efforts to have hanging abolished had been going on since the early 1800's, particularly in reducing the number of capital crimes and ending the public executions. In 1933 the minimum age for execution was raised from sixteen to eighteen years old. In 1922, the Infanticide Act made killing a baby under the age of one by its mother no longer a Capital Crime. Like any other culture whether they are of European or American decent, the homeless play an important role in the crime rates of any population. However, their numbers in prisons at the time were small compared to other portions of the population.
In 1965 Liverpool's prison had a typical accommodation of eight hundred thirty but on any given day in that year the numbers swelled up to approximately 1,393 (Glover, 1965). The total number of homeless people in prison at that time was 29, according to the government founded research done by W. McWilliams in Some Male Offender' Problems (McWilliams, 1975). The fact that there was a small number of homeless people in prison was a positive sign however, the problem is that once their jail time was up they are sent back to the streets to reoffend. There was no attempt at providing shelter for these individuals. For the homeless portion of the population in Liverpool, crime became second nature and they ended up back in prison. So this was a failure of the people around them, the government, and the police to tame their criminal lives.
Attitudes in general in Britain were changed by the Second World War. The press stimulated the interest of the public in murder trials. Every word of murder trials used to be reported in the press in the 1940s and 1950s. For the people who were sentenced to prisons in the 1950s and 60s prisons were no longer concerned with harsh punishment and discipline but with the rehabilitation of the offender. This is what our prison system is based on today.
Executions had become very unpopular in the prisons in which they took place. They had become a rare event in most prisons. Only Pentonville and Wandsworth in London, Walton in Liverpool, Strangways in Manchester and some other prisons had frequent hangings.
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