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Ruth Ellis and Public Contestation of the Death Penalty

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Abstract

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.

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