I DISAGREE completely with Professor Dirk Van Zyl Smit ("Scotland 'must ban automatic life terms for murder'", The Herald, March 12). To deliberately kill someone is simply unforgivable. No amount of contrition on the part of the killer or attempted rehabilitation will bring the victim back to life nor undo the collateral damage the crime caused. As a result of their crime murderers should lose any right to return to society, we neither want nor need them. Do you want a convicted murderer as a next door neighbour? I don’t.

To consider an across-the-board reduction in the already ridiculously short “life sentence” is another step in placing a higher value on the life of the murderer than that of the innocent victim. It's time we dispensed with the Victorian concept of redemption and accepted that there are evil people in society from whom the rest of us have every right to expect to be protected. Cases such as the recent one involving Robbie McIntosh who while out on home leave following a previous murder conviction attempted to bludgeon to death an innocent passerby with a dumbbell is all the evidence needed to support longer rather than shorter jail sentences. “Life sentence” should mean life excluded from society permanently not just for a handful of years. In the absence of capital punishment I would put them all on an otherwise uninhabited island and leave them there.

David J Crawford,

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