Ruth Ellis and Public Contestation of the Death Penalty



This article examines public reactions to the case of Ruth Ellis through an analysis of letters sent to the Home Secretary. The vast majority of these requested a reprieve, and highlighted themes such as her status as a mother, the murder as a crime of passion, David Blakely's mistreatment of her and the unfairness of applying the death penalty in her case. I argue that we need to analyse the public's views on Ruth Ellis in order to understand why her case was a pivotal one in turning the tide against capital punishment as a mandatory penalty for murder.